Jump to content


Senior Members
  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Everything posted by jp255

  1. I think this is more controversial than you make out. I bet there would be many people who would not agree that it is certainly unethical. I would also imagine that those who worship a being, whom they consider to be the creator, might disagree (assuming that their ability to worship the creator means they find the decision to create acceptable). Perhaps I'd even suggest that people who do worship a creator have not ethically examined these questions or judged the creator (I assume that if they had they shouldn't approve of the creator). I am happy to suggest this because use of logic from the point of view of society does not deem the creator's actions to be acceptable (assume here that many believers in a creator live by and agree with societies's laws). I also asked these hypothetical questions somewhere else and received a lot of emotional responses, and I was subject to some name calling. I don't think it is worthwhile comparing life to life after death (or lack of) because we don't have much knowledge of what happens after death. I would also take the same course of action as you, for the reasoning I expressed earlier. I used to take a rather emo stance on this matter, but I have since realised I was valuing unacceptable events over the good things using an unreasonable justification. It seems that strict application of ethics can be self-destructive in certain situations. An interesting question that I found myself asking after I considered those questions is: What qualities are required in order for my (and societies') ethics to approve of the creation/universe overall?
  2. I think I have some points to add to this discussion. I have touched on this subject before in other threads (in the religion forum i think). My overall opinion is in support of the OP, but I use a different line of reasoning. I have argued that even society itself should agree with the OP. My argument deals with ethics rather than philosophy. Consider the hypothetical scenario: "Tomorrow a way to end the universe becomes available, and the end will be a painless death for all life. You are given the choice to end the universe, what is the most acceptable outcome, end or no end? and what do you choose to do?" If both outcomes of the question are considered, it can be argued that both outcomes are both acceptable and unacceptable at the same time (according to society). The decision to end the universe can be considered unreasonable because it would kill human beings, but at the same time it can be considered reasonable because it would prevent unacceptable harm (crimes) to humans in the future (and I assume here that the majority of the populace would conclude that it is highly likely an unacceptable crime would occur in the future). The decision not to end is reasonable because murder is not committed, but is also unreasonable because you have knowingly allowed for crimes to occur. To continue on from this, the hypothetical scenario of the creation of the universe can be considered also (assuming the universe was created for the scenario): "Knowing what you know of the universe today, do you think the decision to create this universe is an ethically acceptable decision to make?" When I contemplate these two questions I come to the same conclusion as the OP, but I go further and conclude that the creation of the universe is an ethically unacceptable decision to make (according to my own secular ethics and it may even go against the law). The issues I have surround the value of "good" and "bad" that you mention. I would decide not to create the universe because I would rather not have to weigh up good vs bad (how does one even compare the two? and is it reasonable for us to decide one persons pleasure is worth more than anothers pain?), and instead I'd rather just have nothing or neutrality (nonexistence). This is the decision which I find most acceptable to live with, (yes, this justification is selfish.).
  3. If one is to say that viruses cannot independently reproduce, who is to say that humans can? Viral replication is dependent on the existence of other organisms just like Human reproduction is (I think we can't live without our gut flora). Either way, most, if not all organisms, are dependent on their environment in some way, and so reproduction is dependent on the environment too. It seems rather meangingless and quite pointless to describe viruses (but not other "dependent" organisms) as non-living according to that argument, the justification is inadequate. I prefer a definition of life which includes the capability to evolve. There are weaknesses with this reasoning as well, Humans are not totally metabolically independent either. So how much independence is required for an organism to be considered as living?
  4. jp255

    Yay, GUNS!

    I would gladly give up that right to remove guns from the populace. The reason being, I have weighed up the probability of the government going tyrannical vs the probability of harm coming to me from the populace being armed such that I consider the latter to be more likely. I have lived in the UK all my life, where most people do not have guns stored in their houses, and I prefer it that way. I would be somewhat worried living in the US, and I wouldn't buy a gun just to feel more secure. I'd rather limit guns to police, shooting ranges and maybe allow them for hunting.
  5. I did not know what a group carcinogen is, but I knew that alcohol is carcinogenic. Am I unaware of the harm alcohol can cause? I guess I am anomaly then, I am less informed than your group of friends because I did not know what a group carcinogen was, but I did know alcohol was carcinogenic. Perhaps knowledge of group carcinogen is not needed to know alcohol is harmful after all. You didn't answer my question about their reaction to your information, did they all quit drinking on the spot, did they cut back? or did they place more value in their enjoyment of alcohol over their health? We can find out how serious the blind spot is by observing the behavioral change in your group of friends and we can see if education would work. If I was to use a similar approach, then I would agree with the blind spot as many of my friends at secondary/high school did not know that alcohol was harmful. I am not sure how much of the general population (including adults) are unaware of the harmful effects of alcohol. I would go further and suggest that telling people alcohol is a carcinogen is not enough, I had heard arguments (at school) such as "My granfather died of colon cancer, red meat consumption causes colon cancer, he was a vegan, therefore red meat doesn't cause cancer", and "everything causes cancer", I would want the information in the education program to tackle this misconception (though I don't know if the misconception is common, and if correcting would be effective). I agree with the legal age limit of 21 as in USA, based on the biological argument. I do agree with somewhat with John that some of the laws are not enforced that often (in the UK). I would however, want to see an education program, and perhaps even TV advertising highlighting the negative effects, which would ask the watcher "Is the enjoyment worth the increased risk?" or something like that. I also feel as though peer pressure and psychology might play a role in the promotion of alcoholic consumption, maybe there are many people which slip into the mentality "Many people drink, therefore it's safe".
  6. jp255

    Yay, GUNS!

    So if a lawnmower is used to kill someone, you can sue the manufacturing company? The comparison is not the same, the gun scenario had intent to kill, the lawn mower scenario didn't. If it the gun scenario was proven to be an accident (safety somehow didn't work?), then i'd bet the manufacturer could be sued. I fail to see the relevance of intent of design. Is the enjoyment you get out of having your guns is worth more than the yearly gun related death rate?
  7. jp255

    Yay, GUNS!

    I'd think that how someone intends to use a gun or lawn mower matters more than what it was designed for. Whilst a gun was designed to kill, was the 5 year old child intending to kill the 2 year old? it could be that that was not the goal. There can be gun accidents, just like there can be lawn mower accidents. The design of the gun can lead to additional deaths that were not intentional, and the design of the lawn mower can lead to the deaths of human beings that were not intentional. If we know that next year it is very likely a large number of people will die from gunshots, shouldn't they just be as strictly regulated as in the UK? The decision not to ban/heavily restrict, when we know that some of these deaths may well have been prevented by such action, is reasonable? Shouldn't this lack of action be considered to be immoral?
  8. jp255

    Yay, GUNS!

    That is the part of the point overtone was trying to make imo. If you accept that we cannot reduce the deaths to 0, then what was the point of the post describing a single incident involving child gun deaths? as a single incident it only shows that children killing other children with guns is a possibility, but that should already be known to be a possibility. So it is a pointless post. Perhaps a post which detailed the overall gun deaths of children killing children would have been more useful. If I made the hypothetical scenario. "A child dies from a lawn mower, despite the safety features swasont pointed out", should we then seek to implement a national education program about lawn mowers?.
  9. So is this the criteria you use to determine whether someone knows about the dangers of alcohol? I have no idea what the group 1 refers to, so even though I know alcohol can cause various cancers, I am unaware of the dangers according to you? I don't drink alcohol at all, so the harm done by it isn't of any great concern to me. Since you consider this population of friends to be representative of the general population, how many of them stopped or cut down on drinking after they became aware? and John, you you didn't really respond to the biological argument either. Are you denying the possibility that alcohol consumption can interfere with brain development (or whatever it was) to adolescents? or do you really require us to know everything about the damage alcohol can cause to each individual adolescent before using that knowledge to prevent harm to adolescents? You havn't really given much support for this blind spot you speak. If you were in control. What would you do?
  10. jp255

    Yay, GUNS!

    I didn't know toy guns were marketed in such a way, "point at another human being, and pull the trigger". Where is that written on the packet? Did the child think it was a toy anyway?
  11. I'm a little shocked about your argument here. So what if we can't perfectly determine the "safe drinking age" for each and every individual in a population? Yes, we cannot fully explain what is going on biologically, but that does not mean the risk to adolescent health is not there, does it? It seems to me that a reasonable course of action would to be to increase the drinking age limit to avoid the risk of damage entirely, if anything. You also mention this "blind spot" with regards to the bad effects of alcohol. Please could you provide some evidence that the general public are not aware of the dangers of alcohol. What if people consume alcohol, with knowledge of the dangers, but do so because they enjoy it? Maybe, in the UK, the law is not so strictly enforced because it is socially acceptable to drink underage? Perhaps we are aware of the harm, but pyschology plays apart "everyone else does it so I will too" kind of thing?
  12. jp255

    Yay, GUNS!

    I think the point overtone was trying to make, was that an intervention, that would prevent such an incident from ever occuring, could be met with a substantial amount of resistance. How easy is it to reduce the liklihood of such incidents (on a national scale) to 0? Will education do this? will a ban for giving guns to children do this? Unfortunately, incidents like these are a possibility. Altering that possibility to 0 will require a fair amount of gun control. It isn't wise to use this one incident as a justification for major gun control reform, though the frequency of incidents of a similar nature would be a better impetus. Overtone highlighted that point drawing comparison to other incidents, like lawn mower deaths, and it is a reasonable point. If a child dies from a lawn mower should there be stricter lawn mower control? One should accept that incidents like these are possible when the gun control is not at a level where it is reasonable to say "a 5 year old child wont get his/her hands on a gun". Surely the arguments should be surrounding the issue "what is an acceptable level of gun deaths caused by children?", because let's face it, reducing the probability of a child getting his/her hands on a gun to 0 is pretty hard. I do disagree with overtone's comment, "it would be justified". Civil war is not the kind of public response I'd hope for. I'm not even sure how I could reasonably justify civil war.
  13. So free will is determined by the display of a behavioural trait that no other animals possess? I'd offer birdsongs as proof of free will for the family of bird-of-paradise. You can't really claim that instinct would never allow for suicide either, not unless you know that suicide is a behavioural trait which is not a possibility of the fitness landscape.
  14. I've brought this up before, but it can be taken further and the situation of any creator can be considered. Though I make some assumptions here (some of which I make because of my lack of knowledge on law and religion). Since the creator/God is the ultimate cause of all events that occur in this universe, the creator/God should be put on trial for all crimes. Now my knowledge of law is very poor but I believe it is against the law to decide not to act (tell the police etc.) if you have knowledge of a crime that is going to happen (assumption 1). This is where things get more confusing, but assuming assumption 1 is correct then the creator/God should be investigated to find out whether or not he/she/it had knowledge of the crimes before he/she/it decided to create the universe (maybe even knowledge that crimes were a possibility before he/she/it created the universe would be enough to find he/she/it culpable). This assumes that the creator/god had a choice to create the universe (might not be true) (assumption 2). It is also possible that creator/God could have prevented the crime, and he/she/it's decision to not act could also be judged. All of this is dependent on the law being fairly applied to any and every individual regardless of status (and also to whatever species the creator/God is) (assumption 3). Maybe the creator would also need somekind of mental examination as well. Basically, what I am getting at is that the creator/God should also be put on trial for his/her/it's contribution to the crime from the viewpoint of societies law assuming the law is fairly applied to everyone equally when appropriate. Why shouldn't the creator/God be judged? There are many possibilities when one considers this scenario because of our lack of knowledge, but some of these possibilities are ones which should result in a conviction (according to societies law, e.g. the scenario of: creator had a choice in creation of universe/power to stop crime, creator had knowledge of the crimes, creator not mentally handicapped?). If any of that is wrong, I know for sure that jp255's secular ethics vs the creator would definitely be one in which conviction is a possibility (depending on which assumptions are true). Who knows if the creator would turn up at the court date, or even tell the truth! Of course, there is also the possibility there is no creator.
  15. I think I understand your position more clearly now, thanks. If I was to counter claim and say "it is our counsciousness that has determined the superior course of action and not our unconscious", who would be correct? I would be careful when basing a belief on other people's opinions (even if it appears to be informed). I'd rather not hold an opinion than base a belief on someone else's opinion these days. I have not read much on this subject (not far beyond the wiki page of neuroscience of free will). However, I have come across Sam Harris' quotes before and I would not recommend his book because I think his conclusions have weak support. Maybe the quotes I read was his attempt at trying to promote his book? Either way I wouldn't buy that book, that's for sure. I've not heard of Overtone's other suggestions before, but I'll look them up since he/she says they are of higher scientific quality. My opinion is that it will be fairly difficult for us to devise experiments that allow us to find an answer, unless we are somehow able to take away awareness/consciousness as overtone mentioned. We have to somehow find a solution to overcome the current difficulty, overlapping conscious and unconscious activity before the action (and also determining from this overlapping activity what is causing the action/outcome, both? just one?). As far as I am aware, pretty much all the scientific literature is based on simple experiments examining decision making (e.g the decision to push a button) and more complex decisions like planning have not been researched. From the research so far I have concluded that the existence of free will is still an open question. I agree with Overtone that the fact, unconscious brain activity occurs before conscious activity which occurs before an action/decision, explains little about the role of consciousness in the process of decision making. So I think the standard position should be "I don't know if free will exists yet". Though I did express my gut feeling that all actions/decisions can be explained by genetic and environmental factors (where "freedom of choice" can be a contributing factor), I attach little value to it and maintain what i think should be the standard position.
  16. That classical answer doesn't sit well with me. It is very easy for a criminal just to say "Blame God, he/she/it was ultimately the cause of the crime I committed.". It can be argued that; we do, and have never messed anything up, and that God is the one who messed up his creations. So why is it not deemed reasonable, by those who are religious, to blame God for everything? Isn't it reasonable to judge God's decision to create us and this universe?
  17. I don't know much about religion but the point seems fair. If they believe good people are to go to such a great place after they die then shouldn't Christians be happy overall when a loved one dies? Of course the loss will be painful but heaven sounds a lot nicer than Earth! so much so that they should be more happy than sad when someone dies?
  18. Can you please provide your justification as to why it is not possible for genes to contribute to the cause of an individual's health, physique, endurance etc.?
  19. I think you are taking the wrong approach here, and I don't really see why the publisher or whatever wants a piece written on the parallels between natural evolution and grammar change. I don't really see how such parallels could be meaningful, and I don't think they could be used to explain the changes of grammar. If anything, it would be more appropriate to study memetic evolution rather than genetic/phenotypic evolution (as you suggest) since grammar usage as a trait can be considered as a meme. Even that might not be so useful. Whilst I do not know very much about this topic, I think that the outcome of competition is dependent on many factors and competition itself is dependent on many factors. So I do not think there is such a debate and I do not think that specific case studies of competition will help you write a paragraph on grammar change as the situations are both very different. I will offer some comments concerning grammar change though. You mention global grammar changes and competition. Are these two categories separate? i.e is it possible that a global change to the grammatical system is, at least in part, caused by competition itself? How do you measure the global change in grammar and grammar usage? It is hard to write something other than an opinion piece on such a topic, but that is what I expect your paragraph will be.
  20. I am going to carry on with the criticism, because the best kind of response is not one which simply answers the question, but one which seeks to improve the question asker's way of thinking. Yes, I understand that you made the assumption but all we have to go by is what you write. I wished to convey in my previous post that some ackowledgment that your claims might not be true is appropriate. I wanted to find out if you believed those unreasonable claims to be true or not. Overall, those claims were not even necessary. Ok, good to know you are a layman. It seems to me that you are not sceptical enough and you do not show much consideration for possible opposing arguments. You say self awareness is a passive process, like watching yourself do things, but is it? you don't seem to consider the opposing stance, and why do you deem opposing possibilities to be unlikely? It is not about right or wrong. It is about what is most likely to be true. There is no evidence which puts the questions concerning free will's existence to rest. Imo, it is not good science to claim that free will does not exist with the evidence we currently have, and I disagree with Sam Harris' reasoning. The conclusions he draws and the extension of the conclusions he draws from simple behavioral evidence to complex behaviours isn't appropriate. I am still a little confused about your overall opinion here. You state that self awareness is passive, like watching yourself do things, but then you also make statements that people don't do things unless they truly want to. That is going to be quite hard to show! Though your reasoning is not acceptable, you should not dismiss the opposing possibility so easily by waving all pondering thoughts off as a "long-lasting ripple of real life experiences". I'm not sure why you hold the position you do, but I can't shake off the possibility that you are biased considering that you have mostly been arguing for one side the whole time. If people only do things that they want to do, then why do you want to believe in free will's non-existence? Yes, that is a possibility. I was stating that the actions and decisions associated with conscioussness are not pointless as they can influence the chain of events in the universe, since those actions can contribute to the initiation of other events. As for the other belief which you have described, that we are watching ourselves do things, I guess the feelings and emotions would be pointless and simply occur (this assumes that the feelings and emotions themselves do not contribute to the initiation of other events). There is practically no evidence in support of conscious decision making (we control our lives) or for unconsciouss decision making (no control of our lives), though I'd bet that the former turns out to be true/most likely. I just want to comment on the evolution being blind. Blind may be interpreted as random, and certain mechanisms evolution uses to search the fitness landscape (in some species) are not random. It is for this reason I don't like the term blind.
  21. I don't like the OP (the post! not the person!). There are many unsupported claims in there and I am a little confused, though overall the whole post gives me the impression that you have had an episode of confirmation bias because you mention an assumption and then talk as if the assumption is correct. I hope that you have good evidence to support your belief, and if not I hope you realise that your belief has a certain uncertain probability of being incorrect. I guess I will join in on the speculation, even though I have no idea what the definition of conscioussness is, and have little amounts of knowledge on the topic of conscioussness. If I were to assume free will does not exist, then feelings would be of no value unless they themselves are factors which contribute to the initiation of any other event. If they do not contribute to any other event in this deterministic universe, then they cannot affect the progression of events in the universe and are irrelevant in that respect. Such feelings could only be an event themselves and could not cause any other event. If you think that is pointless then great, but I'd ask you why the universe itself isn't just as pointless. In my opinion, as long as consciousness cannot contribute to the cause of any other event, it can be said that conscioussness cannot affect the chain of events in the universe. I don't that this is very likely though, when someone cries and another tries to console them, I think it's likely that the crying event contributes to the initiation of the consoling event. Overall, I disagree with the OP. No free will does not mean conscioussness is pointless. You would have to prove that it cannot contribute to the cause of any other event to show that conscioussness events are of no relevance to the universe. From an experimental point of view, that would be relatively challenging. My own belief is that free will does exist, though I think some behaviours are determined by our conscioussness decisions more often than others (e.g sexual bahviours might have less causative contribution from conscioussness). Though some behaviours can be very complex I'd think about behaviours and decisions in a way similar to that which we use to explain other traits, that there could be many genetic and environmental factors which can contribute to the cause of a particular decision/behaviour (with interactions being possible). That is just my opinion, and so there is a certain uncertain probability it is incorrect. I think this because of the following reasoning. I feel as though I am in control of my life, the things that I intend to do are done. Other people I know also claim this. If my and other people's intentions do not contribute to the cause of anything I or they do then what is the purpose of the intention? Unless there is an advantageous benefit to such a trait it is unlikely that this trait could become fixed. I let my speculation run away like Fisherian run away. Back in reality, we have major problems determining whether or not a decision was made by the unconscious or conscious, the research being done is in its still in it's infancy.
  22. hmm. I don't get a value which is the same as any of the answers. I will post my line of thinking anyway. In order to understand what happens, you need to consider the outcome of recombination and no recombination with respect to meiosis. Before that though we can already tell that any girl will be normal because the father carries a normal X chromosome. So 50% at least will be normal. Before calculating the probability of a male being normal or afflicted with either genetic disease, it's best to think through meiosis first. Meiosis will only be considered for the mother since she is the one carrying her father's defective X chromosome. In meiosis 1 there is a bivalent of her maternal and paternal chromosomes, where both of the paternal chromatids are defective and none of the maternal chromatids are defective. (70% chance) No recombination scenario: the maternal chromatids remain normal and paternal chromatids remain fully fective (with both disease alleles). Two chromatids have no defective alleles, and the other two chromatids have defective alleles. 2 gametes have no defective allele, 2 gametes do. 50% chance of being normal. (30% chance) Recombination: One maternal chromatid will recombine with a paternal chromatid, the result of which is both chromatids become a carrier of a defective allele due to recombination unlinking the disease alleles. Other maternal chromatid remains normal and the other paternal chromatid remains defective. The end result is three gametes carry defective alleles and one gamete is normal, 75% are defective allele carriers and 25% are normal. The calculations (only for the probability of a normal outcome): No recombination scenario: 0.7 x 0.5 = 0.35 Recombination: 0.3 x 0.25 = 0.075 add them together for overall probability of having a normal male = 0.35 + 0.075 = 0.425 or 42.5% 42.5% only considers probability for a male. equal chance to have a male or female so 42.5/2 = 21.25% 50% (chance of female being normal) + 21.25% = 71.25% chance of a normal child. I go with option 1. It seems I am wrong. I disagree with previous posters' calculations since recombination event results in 3 out of 4 gametes being defective allele carriers. .3 x .25
  23. You can look at the wikipedia pages for both terms. It seems they arn't synonymous. I don't really like the first sentence of the wiki page on assortive mating as I thought assortive mating was non-random mating patterns caused by differential preference for individuals in a population. Other paragraphs on that same page seem to fit the one I described better than the one the page states in the first sentence. Homogamy is another way of saying inbreeding according to wiki. I suppose inbreeding could be described as assortive mating in some scenarios (e.g arranged marriages) as they are not random patterns. Though in general, assortive mating should not be taken to mean inbreeding.
  24. I didn't create this topic since I am not the same person as the original poster. I don't give out negative rep often, but I felt this one was deserved. "This is speculation" was totally unnecessary because the original poster already stressed that point and said that she didn't want that kind of response. So how exactly does his post contribute? is it the usage of italics?
  25. That was clearly stated in the OP... I think I have a few comments to make, but I still have to do more literature searching. Also, I am not that well read on this topic. I'm not totally sure how the reverse citric acid cycle was relevant in Orgel's essay, does the prebiotic Earth have to use the same intermediates in the cycle? There have been reports of viable metabolic pathways, which can produce pyruvate, acetate, succinate and other compunds from a more simple cycle. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19968461. Does a metabolic cycle have to evolve? The metabolism first theory could mean that the metabolic events allowed for life to arise? like providing energy and nucleotides? no? I think this view has been challenged and it might not be as likely as once thought. In vitro selection experiments from random RNA have been able to create vital catalytic functions such as ligation, replication, translation. Since you stated self-replication, there is a paragraph (in the first link) on self-replication where it provides some basic experimental evidence. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/cbdv.200790055/pdf http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18775793 My opinion is somewhat similar to moontanman's opinion, that metabolic cycles came before RNA. As for the first cells, there are differing ideas out there, lipid, detergent, and a different type of cell from the iron-sulphur world theory (can't remember what it was, FeS bubble?). I still have a lot to learn on this topic however.
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.