anthony

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It's pseudo-scientific, smuggling in unwarranted premises and conclusions. But would expect you to miss that kind of thing.

How so? Pinker produced a pretty accurate body count. He dealt with the facts, not suppositions. Facts are always more important than principles, suppositions and hypotheses.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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It's pseudo-scientific, smuggling in unwarranted premises and conclusions. But would expect you to miss that kind of thing.

How so? Pinker produced a pretty accurate body count. He dealt with the facts, not suppositions. Facts are always more important than principles, suppositions and hypotheses.

Ba'al Chatzaf

The answer is suggested by Michael's original response, as if the "science" suggested that something good had happened. What do you think? What would you say the scientific value of Pinker's study was? What would you say it had scientifically shown as having been improved upon in recent history?

Shayne

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It's actually a fairly obvious point. People are ignorant about natural rights,

We have have been through this so many times here and still you don't get it.

No surprise that people are ignorant about natural rights: they don't exist. No one is born with natural rights coming with the package.

Rights are human creations, they can be granted, declared, taken from you, etc.

You can happen to be born into a system which grants you certain rights, and they may be called "natural" rights by those who created them. But all this does not alter the fact that natural rights as such don't exist for human beings qua birth.

Edited by Xray

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The answer is suggested by Michael's original response, as if the "science" suggested that something good had happened. What do you think? What would you say the scientific value of Pinker's study was? What would you say it had scientifically shown as having been improved upon in recent history?

Shayne

It was a historic presentation, not a scientific presentation. On those grounds it implied that historically we are getting less lethal than we used to be.

Accounts of how bloody the 20th century was are were shown to be exaggerated somewhat.

I found the "fractal" view of the data quite interesting.

I did not see Pinker grinding any ideological axes in his presentation and for that I praise him.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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It's actually a fairly obvious point. People are ignorant about natural rights,

We have have been through this so many times here and still you don't get it.

No surprise that people are ignorant about natural rights: they don't exist. No one is born with natural rights coming with the package.

Rights are human creations, they can be granted, declared, taken from you, etc.

You can happen to be born into a system which grants you certain rights, and they may be called "natural" rights by those who created them. But all this does not alter the fact that natural rights as such don't exist for human beings qua birth.

We should do a scientific experiment. Let's divide the earth into regions. In one kind of region, we let people who believe in natural inalienable rights exist as sovereigns. In the other regions we'll let you and the barbarians who don't believe in natural rights aggregate. We'll even give you a head start. You can keep all the material objects human civilization has created thus far. The cities, buildings, roads, artifacts, etc. Just leave us reasonable space on earth free from your barbaric grasp. Then let's see what happens.

Oh that's right. You barbarians can't let us do this experiment, because then your guilty secret would be revealed, and your power would be eradicated forever.

Shayne

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It's actually a fairly obvious point. People are ignorant about natural rights,

We have have been through this so many times here and still you don't get it.

No surprise that people are ignorant about natural rights: they don't exist. No one is born with natural rights coming with the package.

Rights are human creations, they can be granted, declared, taken from you, etc.

You can happen to be born into a system which grants you certain rights, and they may be called "natural" rights by those who created them. But all this does not alter the fact that natural rights as such don't exist for human beings qua birth.

We should do a scientific experiment. Let's divide the earth into regions. In one kind of region, we let people who believe in natural inalienable rights exist as sovereigns. In the other regions we'll let you and the barbarians who don't believe in natural rights aggregate. We'll even give you a head start. You can keep all the material objects human civilization has created thus far. The cities, buildings, roads, artifacts, etc. Just leave us reasonable space on earth free from your barbaric grasp. Then let's see what happens.

Oh that's right. You barbarians can't let us do this experiment, because then your guilty secret would be revealed, and your power would be eradicated forever.

Shayne

"Belief" is the key word here. At least you have admitted that the natural rights issue is based on pure belief. That's what I was getting at.

Now that we have established that natural rights don't exist as such but are based on belief, we can take it from there.

Now if you admit that rights are indeed human creations, we could have a very productive discussion here about what basic human rights are to look like if the goal is to live in a peaceful society.

Edited by Xray

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"Belief" is the key word here. At least you have admitted that the natural rights issue is based on pure belief.

I believe that 2+2=4 as well you dolt. And no, I'm not going to have a conversation with you about natural rights. I can think of more interesting forms of self-torture.

Shayne

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"Belief" is the key word here. At least you have admitted that the natural rights issue is based on pure belief.

I believe that 2+2=4 as well you dolt.

You know that 2+2=4. Don't wriggle out.

And no, I'm not going to have a conversation with you about natural rights. I can think of more interesting forms of self-torture.

Of course you won't have that conversation. Again, you choose evasion.

Edited by Xray

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It's actually a fairly obvious point. People are ignorant about natural rights,

We have have been through this so many times here and still you don't get it.

No surprise that people are ignorant about natural rights: they don't exist. No one is born with natural rights coming with the package.

Rights are human creations, they can be granted, declared, taken from you, etc.

You can happen to be born into a system which grants you certain rights, and they may be called "natural" rights by those who created them. But all this does not alter the fact that natural rights as such don't exist for human beings qua birth.

We should do a scientific experiment. Let's divide the earth into regions. In one kind of region, we let people who believe in natural inalienable rights exist as sovereigns. In the other regions we'll let you and the barbarians who don't believe in natural rights aggregate. We'll even give you a head start. You can keep all the material objects human civilization has created thus far. The cities, buildings, roads, artifacts, etc. Just leave us reasonable space on earth free from your barbaric grasp. Then let's see what happens.

Oh that's right. You barbarians can't let us do this experiment, because then your guilty secret would be revealed, and your power would be eradicated forever.

Shayne

I didn't realize you were that much of a Randroid. That stuff is in you like tattoo ink. Barbarians. Jesus, dude, it's a nearly Aryan kind of zeal you have going there.

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Natural rights exist in the same way written philosophy exists. The natural refers to their reference, man. They are right and true because their moral heart is right and true. They are also a human invention, perhaps the greatest human invention of all and injected into law over time in fitful ways. Natural rights represent the objectification of morality. They can be objectified because of the basic, immutable nature of a human being.

--Brant

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Natural rights exist in the same way written philosophy exists. The natural refers to their reference, man. They are right and true because their moral heart is right and true. They are also a human invention, perhaps the greatest human invention of all and injected into law over time in fitful ways. Natural rights represent the objectification of morality. They can be objectified because of the basic, immutable nature of a human being.

--Brant

Wow, that was good, Brant. Needs said once in awhile, doesn't it?

r

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Natural rights exist in the same way written philosophy exists. The natural refers to their reference, man. They are right and true because their moral heart is right and true. They are also a human invention, perhaps the greatest human invention of all and injected into law over time in fitful ways. Natural rights represent the objectification of morality. They can be objectified because of the basic, immutable nature of a human being.

--Brant

Wow, that was good, Brant. Needs said once in awhile, doesn't it?

r

I like to stick it to Xray.

--Brant

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I didn't realize you were that much of a Randroid. That stuff is in you like tattoo ink. Barbarians. Jesus, dude, it's a nearly Aryan kind of zeal you have going there.

Proudly "Randian" in some respects. You're a bit slow on the uptake aren't you?

Shayne

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I didn't realize you were that much of a Randroid. That stuff is in you like tattoo ink. Barbarians. Jesus, dude, it's a nearly Aryan kind of zeal you have going there.

Proudly "Randian" in some respects. You're a bit slow on the uptake aren't you?

Shayne

You got it, Sporty-Pants: just your basic Barbarian.

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Natural rights exist in the same way written philosophy exists.

I would put it like that: The idea of natural rights exists.

But is this idea consistent with reality? It is held that those natural rights are a "gift from nature (or God)":

http://www.u-s-history.com/pages/h1206.html

Political theorists since the time of the ancient Greeks have argued in support of the existence of natural rights, meaning those rights that men possessed as a gift from nature (or God) prior to the formation of governments. It is generally held that those rights belong equally to all men at birth and cannot be taken away.

The idea of natural rights was also used as an egalitarian concept to counter the idea of the "divine right of kings".

As for "cannot be taken away": how do natural rights advocates deal with the fact that rights are often taken away?

http://www.u-s-history.com/pages/h1206.html

The concept of natural rights received one of its most forceful expositions in the writings of Englishman John Locke (1632-1704), who argued that man was originally born into a state of nature where he was rational, tolerant, and happy. In this original existence man was entitled to enjoy the rights of life, liberty and property.

But isn't that "state of nature" really about pure survival where things like tolerance play virtually no role? The same goes for rationality. Man is not 'born' into it. While humans have the capacity to develop rationality, it is largely a learning process.

As for the original state of nature where man was allegedly "happy" - often fear prevailed, and cruel fights were daily fare. And this was long before any governments existed. (Steven Pinker in his talk mentions this too).

So it looks like that glorified "state of nature" never existed.

Edited by Xray

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As for "cannot be taken away": how do natural rights advocates deal with the fact that rights are often taken away?

They can be violated. They can be and are traduced by law. But they "cannot be taken away" because the human nature they are philosophically derived from cannot be riven out of a human being.

--Brant

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They [natural rights] can be violated. They can be and are traduced by law. But they [natural rights] "cannot be taken away" because the human nature they are philosophically derived from cannot be riven out of a human being.

Indeed, natural rights "cannot be taken away" because one cannot take away something that does not exist. :)

because the human nature they are philosophically derived from cannot be riven out of a human being.

The issue is whether the philosophical derivations themselves are consistent with reality.

There exists no gift from nature called natural rights. The fact of being born with a stomach is not accompanied by the natural right (as a "gift from nature") to have it filled.

All rights are an exclusively cultural phenomenon, created by humans only. For example, the society you live in can grant you the right to have your stomach filled.

Certain rights can be declared as unalieneable by a society. But again, it is humans who have decided on this.

That humans have often tried to justify rights with a transpersonal higher authority (be it "nature" or "God") can be explained by the pressure of legitimization the declarers are under. Therefore the intention behind presenting rights as a "gift from nature" (or from God) is to give them the aura of timelessness and unassailability.

But the real baffling thing is that those obvious epistemological fallacies still can produce remarkable ethical and political results.

Example: suppose person P lives in a dictatorial regime where a power-hungry clique exploits the population.

Now P happens to believe in a religion where it is claimed that God has created all men equal. This gives P (and many other believers in this religion) such fuel that they instigate a revolution in which more and more citizens take part. In the end, the regime falls.

One could downright speak of 'irrationality as a moral weapon' here. ;)

For to assert that a god created all men equal is clearly a fallacy. And to advocate a fallacy is irrational.

But if irrational premises can have such powerful effect in advancing the ethical development of mankind, wouldn't this contradict the Objectivist tenet that every moral action is necessarily a rational action?

Edited by Xray

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They [natural rights] can be violated. They can be and are traduced by law. But they [natural rights] "cannot be taken away" because the human nature they are philosophically derived from cannot be riven out of a human being.

Indeed, natural rights "cannot be taken away" because one cannot take away something that does not exist. :)

because the human nature they are philosophically derived from cannot be riven out of a human being.

The issue is whether the philosophical derivations themselves are consistent with reality.

There exists no gift from nature called natural rights. The fact of being born with a stomach is not accompanied by the natural right (as a "gift from nature") to have it filled.

All rights are an exclusively cultural phenomenon, created by humans only. For example, the society you live in can grant you the right to have your stomach filled.

Certain rights can be declared as unalieneable by a society. But again, it is humans who have decided on this.

That humans have often tried to justify rights with a transpersonal higher authority (be it "nature" or "God") can be explained by the pressure of legitimazation the declarers are under. Therefore the intention behind presenting rights as a "gift from nature" (or from God) is to give them the aura of timelessness and unassailability.

But the real baffling thing is that those obvious epistemological fallacies still can produce remarkable ethical and political results.

Example: suppose person P lives in a dictatorial regime where a power-hungry clique exploits the population.

Now P happens to believe in a religion where it is claimed that God has created all men equal. This gives P (and many other believers in this religion) such fuel that they instigate a revolution in which more and more citizens take part. In the end, the regime falls.

One could downright speak of 'irrationality as a moral weapon' here. ;)

For to assert that a god created all men equal is clearly a fallacy. And to advocate a fallacy is irrational.

But if irrational premises can have such powerful effect in advancing the ethical development of mankind, wouldn't this contradict the Obcetivist tenet that every moral action is necessarily a rational action?

Such an action is moral if not immoral. I don't see the absolute all-the-time necessity for rationality. All men (and women) created equal merely refers to their equal at birth tabula rasa moral status respecting all other men (and women). They do not then grow up to become unequal respecting rights and, hopefully, the law. God or nature as the endower of rights is essentially the same, but the idea of God is much more powerful and epistemological genius. It over-powers the idea of King. When the King bows down before God he is implicitly declaring himself only the equal to the peasant in his humanity. This is really man bowing down to man. The King is bowing down to his subjects and the subjects to their King. God gets stuck in there as a buffer and to thwart ridicule, the most potent of all weapons. Lastly, you seem really not to understand the difference between negative and positive rights. In this we are talking about negative rights, not the right to a chicken in every pot, which is a positive right. It can get confusing for the right to life is a negative right expressed positively as is the right to property.

--Brant

Edited by Brant Gaede

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What is patently irrational is to be claiming that "X doesn't exist" when you don't even know what "X" is in the first place. Xray has no clue what is meant by "natural rights", neither in the historic meaning, nor in my particular meaning, nor in Brant's meaning. And yet she irrationally insists they don't exist. It's pointless to argue with her, let her persist in her delusions.

Shayne

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What is patently irrational is to be claiming that "X doesn't exist" when you don't even know what "X" is in the first place. Xray has no clue what is meant by "natural rights", neither in the historic meaning, nor in my particular meaning, nor in Brant's meaning. And yet she irrationally insists they don't exist. It's pointless to argue with her, let her persist in her delusions.

Shayne

I'm not concerned with her delusions as they appertain to her. In any case, she's been basically this way, her way, since she arrived here over two years ago and I've consistently engaged her and don't see any reason to stop. At least I have time right now to enjoy this shooting-fish-in-a-barrel. No great intellectual work required. No need to go to tthe library and research it out.

--Brant

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Each of us works out ideas in our own fashion.

The methods we use have just as much to do with the mental habits we have acquired elsewhere as they do with abstract thinking systems given in Objectivism or even formal logic.

I like Xray.

I have learned over time that she seeks enlightenment in her own way. In other words, she may get some things wrong, but she will not bear false witness to her own mind. To me, that's top value. (You can change your understanding through learning--including learning by the Socratic system Internet forums encourage. It's much harder to change being true to yourself, which is a matter of character.)

You have to look between the lines to see that, though, not look just at the surface of her manner of expression. Rather than see her as making absolute declarations, it helps to imagine her probing ideas in a Germanic fashion. :)

Also, she sometimes comes up with some really cool outside-the-box curve balls. I always like it when that happens.

Michael

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Each of us works out ideas in our own fashion.

The methods we use have just as much to do with the mental habits we have acquired elsewhere as they do with abstract thinking systems given in Objectivism or even formal logic.

I like Xray.

I have learned over time that she seeks enlightenment in her own way. In other words, she may get some things wrong, but she will not bear false witness to her own mind. To me, that's top value. (You can change your understanding through learning--including learning by the Socratic system Internet forums encourage. It's much harder to change being true to yourself, which is a matter of character.)

You have to look between the lines to see that, though, not look just at the surface of her manner of expression. Rather than see her as making absolute declarations, it helps to imagine her probing ideas in a Germanic fashion. :)

Also, she sometimes comes up with some really cool outside-the-box curve balls. I always like it when that happens.

Michael

Yes, for sure. And one thing you can say about her is that she does not feel the need to state a point and then follow it by a nasty personal zinger. She explores in a Germanic fashion, that is right, Maestro.

rde

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Each of us works out ideas in our own fashion.

The methods we use have just as much to do with the mental habits we have acquired elsewhere as they do with abstract thinking systems given in Objectivism or even formal logic.

I like Xray.

I have learned over time that she seeks enlightenment in her own way. In other words, she may get some things wrong, but she will not bear false witness to her own mind. To me, that's top value. (You can change your understanding through learning--including learning by the Socratic system Internet forums encourage. It's much harder to change being true to yourself, which is a matter of character.)

You have to look between the lines to see that, though, not look just at the surface of her manner of expression. Rather than see her as making absolute declarations, it helps to imagine her probing ideas in a Germanic fashion. :)

Also, she sometimes comes up with some really cool outside-the-box curve balls. I always like it when that happens.

Michael

Yes, for sure. And one thing you can say about her is that she does not feel the need to state a point and then follow it by a nasty personal zinger. She explores in a Germanic fashion, that is right, Maestro.

rde

Michael and Rich,

Thank your for your kind words. Your open-mindedness is much appreciated.

I like Michael's formulation "You can change your understanding through learning--including learning by the Socratic system Internet forums encourage."

"Check your premises" applies to my own premises as well. It's an ongoing process really.

I think it is important keep one's root premises flexible enough to allow working in new knowledge. Working on the basis of the contextuality of knowledge is very productive in that respect.

It is mostly ideologists who have problems with changing their understanding through learning. Since they tend to think they have all the answers, they are often hostile to knowledge which they feel might challenge their premises.

For example, the Second Law of Thermodynamics applied to what is going to happen in the universe has been rejected for a long time by official Marxist ideology.

In a German Marxist philosophical dictionary, it was called "physically inadmissible" and "philosophically false" (!) to conclude from the entropy law a heat death of the universe. I assume it did not fit into the Marxist ideology to visualize such final stage, since this leaves no place anymore for the Marxist vision of a perennial "earthly" paradise on any planets.

In this lexicon, dated from as late as 1975 (!), one can still read:

"Der Endzustand, dem ein ein solches System zustrebt, wird bei Extrapolation des Entropiesatzes auf das unendliche Weltall vielfach als Wärmetod des Weltalls interpretiert. Diese Schlußfolgerung is physikalisch unzulässig und philosophisch falsch".

Quelle: Klaus/Buhr, Philosophisches Wörterbuch, Band 1, S. 332 (Leipzig 1975).

Translation: "The final stage this system is going to reach (verbatim transl: "is headed for"), is, by extrapolating the entropy law to the infinite universe, mostly interpreted as "heath death if the universe". This conclusion is physically inadmissible and philosophically false."

Source: Klaus/Buhr, Philosophical Dictionary, Volume 1, p. 332 (Leipzig 1975).

In short, information that didn't fit the picture of the ideology was arbitrarily rejected as "false".

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What is patently irrational is to be claiming that "X doesn't exist" when you don't even know what "X" is in the first place.

I gave you a link to the definition in post # 90.

Political theorists since the time of the ancient Greeks have argued in support of the existence of natural rights, meaning those rights that men possessed as a gift from nature (or God) prior to the formation of governments. It is generally held that those rights belong equally to all men at birth and cannot be taken away.

http://www.u-s-history.com/pages/h1206.html

Edited by Xray

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Rights endowed by the Creator or nature is a strong, propagandistic shorthand way of saying nature made man with a need for rights so man invented them. He also had a need for clothes and the wheel and fire and food, etc. With rights he is most free to go out and make and get--invent--what he needs in complex, economically integrated societies, some over-lapping, eschewing the use of force to rob and kill. What Jefferson did in The Declaration of Independence was use "Creator" to bitch-slap the King of England and the English parliament and rally the troops, so to say. Insofar as he really thought they were endowed rather than invented he was wrong, but he used the right words the right way for American rebellion purposes.

--Brant

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