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  1. #21
    Senior Member SquirrelTao's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kiddo View Post
    Objective, in this sense, means independent of perception. All things that exist in the natural world are objective. However, once human beings take in information about objects in the natural world, they form perceptions of them, and they are therefore no longer "objective".
    That's sort of how I look at it by default.

    <tangent>
    But there are some philosophical issues with it. Some will ask how we know that our perceptions don't create reality, and I believe there is a renowned physicist named Amit Goswami who takes this school of thought seriously and makes extreme arguments for it that he defends very well. I suppose the views of somebody like Goswami could be summed up as being sort of like viewing the move, The Matrix, as an analogy for the type of reality we live in and our relationship to that reality (without the evil robots, of course).

    Personally, though, I don't believe that our perceptions create reality, because then how did we evolve? Reality had to already be there long enough for us to evolve. Also, what if there were intelligent aliens? Their perceptions might create a different reality from ours, and then what? Would reality be different on their planet? In their galaxy? What would the boundaries be? Would our differing realities come to conflict in the universe, even threatening to tear apart the fabric of the universe? What about differences in individual perception? How does one individual's perception prevail over another's to create reality? Does the individual with the strongest aura win? What about collectively? Do the most popular perceptions create reality? When people believed in Zeus, did Zeus exist? Once they stopped believing, did Zeus then stop existing?
    </tangent>

    Quote Originally Posted by Kiddo View Post
    However, once individuals form perceptions, they can compare them to the perceptions of other individuals. In doing so we form "concepts". Whereas concepts are a human creation, and in no way objective in the natural world, since they are based on many human perceptions, they can be considered objective in the human world because most if not everyone can percieve them. So since values like equality and liberty can be experienced in much the same way by everyone, they are arguably "objective" or independent of perception in the human world.
    Hmmm, do you really suppose values like equality and liberty are experienced the same way? I've had some arguments about exactly what equality means, and many people don't agree on the definition. For example, do you limit it to equal rights? (But where do the rights come from if they can't be grounded in the natural world as Ayn Rand tries to do and as stoics and many others did long before her, with their concepts such as natural law?) Or do you distinguish equality from egalitarianism? Do you mean just an equal playing field, or do you mean equal results? And on and on.

    Liberty, too, has been defined different ways by different philosophers. Sartre believed that even the slave in chains is free. Some believe there is no such thing as freedom, since free will doesn't exist.

    (I personally, however, would love for values to be less relative, since I have some heartburn over cultural relativity. I'll get into the reasons for that later.)

    Relative goes far beyond Einstein's theory. It translates as "in relation to". For example, cultural relativism is the concept that a cultural system can be viewed only in terms of the principles, background, frame of reference, and history that characterize it. This view holds that there are no absolutes or universals within any culture.

    Cultural relativism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    The human world is obviously "in relation to" the natural world which we can only percieve through our limited senses. The fact that individuals can percieve the world so differently demonstrates the limits of our capacities and the inherent relativity of the human world to the natural world.
    Yep, I'm familiar with cultural relativism. I just wasn't sure how you were using the term relativity. You use words like "relative" so differently in different contexts, and they pop up where I would almost expect the opposite word, given what I was beginning to think I understood as your meaning, rendering me unsure what you are trying to say.

    And I was also confused because you had said elsewhere that values are subjective but are here saying they're objective. It would help if you would make your shifting contexts clear since the words you use often add up to the opposite import (once you explain your use) of what I would take them to mean on first reading. It can seem on a first reading (at least to me) that you are being self-contradictory.

    Now, on to the next question:

    How does the nature of values, as you've laid it out so far, differ from cultural relativism?

  2. #22
    Furry Critter with Claws Kiddo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SquirrelTao View Post
    That's sort of how I look at it by default.

    <tangent>
    But there are some philosophical issues with it. Some will ask how we know that our perceptions don't create reality, and I believe there is a renowned physicist named Amit Goswami who takes this school of thought seriously and makes extreme arguments for it that he defends very well. I suppose the views of somebody like Goswami could be summed up as being sort of like viewing the move, The Matrix, as an analogy for the type of reality we live in and our relationship to that reality (without the evil robots, of course).

    Personally, though, I don't believe that our perceptions create reality, because then how did we evolve? Reality had to already be there long enough for us to evolve. Also, what if there were intelligent aliens? Their perceptions might create a different reality from ours, and then what? Would reality be different on their planet? In their galaxy? What would the boundaries be? Would our differing realities come to conflict in the universe, even threatening to tear apart the fabric of the universe? What about differences in individual perception? How does one individual's perception prevail over another's to create reality? Does the individual with the strongest aura win? What about collectively? Do the most popular perceptions create reality? When people believed in Zeus, did Zeus exist? Once they stopped believing, did Zeus then stop existing?
    </tangent>
    That is exactly why I think there are two worlds/realties. The natural and the human.

    Hmmm, do you really suppose values like equality and liberty are experienced the same way? I've had some arguments about exactly what equality means, and many people don't agree on the definition. For example, do you limit it to equal rights? (But where do the rights come from if they can't be grounded in the natural world as Ayn Rand tries to do and as stoics and many others did long before her, with their concepts such as natural law?) Or do you distinguish equality from egalitarianism? Do you mean just an equal playing field, or do you mean equal results? And on and on.

    Liberty, too, has been defined different ways by different philosophers. Sartre believed that even the slave in chains is free. Some believe there is no such thing as freedom, since free will doesn't exist.
    Equality and Liberty in their simplest form are experienced the same way. Just think of them in their quantitative forms and you will see what I mean. The complexities of equality and liberty are an illusion, a corruption caused by individual perception.

    And I was also confused because you had said elsewhere that values are subjective but are here saying they're objective. It would help if you would make your shifting contexts clear since the words you use often add up to the opposite import (once you explain your use) of what I would take them to mean on first reading. It can seem on a first reading (at least to me) that you are being self-contradictory.
    Values are subjective or meaningless in the natural (objective) world and objective in the human (relative) world. However, if values are explored under the scope of individual perception, then they lose their objectivity. Does that help?

    How does the nature of values, as you've laid it out so far, differ from cultural relativism?
    Cultural relativism holds that values are completely dependent on cultural systems, and they are in no way innate or universal.

    My thoughts on the nature of values holds that values are based on some natural process in the natural world, but that process is experienced differently by different individuals so values are best understood by comparing as many human perceptions of them as possible to attain the true underlying experience of that process that we all share.
    Quote Originally Posted by Silently Honest View Post
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  3. #23
    Senior Member SquirrelTao's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kiddo View Post
    That is exactly why I think there are two worlds/realties. The natural and the human.
    I agree with this in one sense but disagree in another. In one sense, I see everything as natural. I see it as impossible for anything to be unnatural.

    In another sense, I see humans and our artifacts as - though part of nature- also unique in nature in that we are able to create our own reality to a greater extent than any other part of nature. We're also unique in that we alone of all the species on earth have the power to willfully live out of harmony with the rest of nature.

    I like the way that the philosopher Ken Wilber puts it when he says that human beings "transcend but include" the rest of the natural world.

    But I agree with the view that there is a reality-in-itself that exists independently of human perception, which is related to the lived reality of human beings and our experiences, and I liked your earlier example of wavelengths of light that human beings perceive as color. I share your basic view that you expressed somewhere in this thread of the importance of including as many perceptions and perspectives as possible to obtain a richer composite of the human mediation of reality.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kiddo View Post
    Equality and Liberty in their simplest form are experienced the same way. Just think of them in their quantitative forms and you will see what I mean. The complexities of equality and liberty are an illusion, a corruption caused by individual perception.
    Sorry, but I'm not sure what you mean by "their quantitative forms". Could you give an example?

    I value equality and liberty, and I would like to have a stronger argument to make than "personal preference" if I were ever in a hypothetical situation where I had to argue for my liberty and equality with some superior or more powerful being or person (like Q on Star Trek or Dostoevsky's Grand Inquisitor). I want there to be a way, but I don't see a way (other than the pragmatic way of strength in numbers of a bunch of other people who join with me who also have a personal preference for liberty and equality).

    Quote Originally Posted by Kiddo View Post
    Values are subjective or meaningless in the natural (objective) world and objective in the human (relative) world. However, if values are explored under the scope of individual perception, then they lose their objectivity. Does that help?
    Well, it helps me understand what type of argument you are making (I think). I still don't understand your premise that values such as equality and liberty have an objective, or quantitative, form.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kiddo View Post
    Cultural relativism holds that values are completely dependent on cultural systems, and they are in no way innate or universal.

    My thoughts on the nature of values holds that values are based on some natural process in the natural world, but that process is experienced differently by different individuals so values are best understood by comparing as many human perceptions of them as possible to attain the true underlying experience of that process that we all share.
    I think that there are natural processes that produce human values. For one thing, I think that we as mammals evolved to care for our young. The emotion of love enabled us to delay self-gratification to care for the next generation. I think that evolution resulted in advances to make us feel emotional rewards that enabled us overcome the "selfish gene" in order to cooperate - not only to tend our young but also to have friends and kinship groups.

    I also think that there are processes at work that generate communities of people who value such things as honesty. This is because a community that did not value honesty would become weakened eventually, and a stronger community that valued honesty would dominate or change it. Same goes for too much violence in a community. But then, there are conflicting processes that result in the opposite. If everybody in a community is honest, they all become trusting, then they become gullible and an outsider or a bad apple can wreak havok. So there will be some "selection" for some dishonesty to keep a community strong. Also a "selection" for some violence and aggression for a similar reason.

    Of course, right now we're witnessing in our world many examples of the strong acting in ways that make them outcompete or outdo the rest of us in some way without ultimately benefiting the common good. Like predatory lending practices causing the housing bubble, for just one example.

    And here is where I'll just lay out my own personal interest in ethical issues. I care about things like global warming, species extinction, peak oil, torture, food scarcity, and many other things. In my experience discussing ethics as a philosophical issue, I don't find that it goes in a practical direction. Which would be the direction of enabling people to make a better decision after thinking about it. As opposed to analysis paralysis. And this then leaves a whole arena of action to politics - without that politics being very guided by philosophy, except for whatever default worldview the players have. And the biggest players aren't playing on the basis of principles. They're not the dreaded ideologues. They just want wealth and power. And many other people walking around are also not ideologues - they just want to get their paycheck, shop, watch TV and drink beer. Everybody seems to have a fear that strong ideas will lead to ideology, but I feel they go overboard and disable ideas themselves, where ideas may be able to help our world. Which is a big part of my frustration with things like relativism. Somebody said in another thread that relativism permits no standard for criticism, and it shared that trait with dogma. I agree with that poster in that we need to avoid both relativism and dogma so that we don't disable thought itself as something that can help us make better decisions for our own lives and for the common good. And I keep using "common good", which would be instantly philosophized away in a debate, which is also kind of frustrating, because most people can agree that they don't like the way Hurricane Katrina was handled, for just one example.

    Getting back to the nature of values, however, I think it's possible to explain, at least somewhat sketchily, the natural processes that result in people having values. But in another sense, how can you say it's good for communities to even survive in the first place? The people in the community think it's good (and I think it's good), but how can it be deemed good in a metaphysical sense? A demon on Buffy the Vampire Slayer would not care. Q on Star Trek would not care. A human being who was very philosophically inclined, who took a transpersonal perspective that "well, we're all just energy anyways, and we'll all return to energy, so living and dying don't really matter in the grand scheme of things, anyway" would also not necessarily care about what the people in the community think is good.

    It's like you have to not only be a human being, but also be a human being who has a standpoint that is about living in the present as a human being, and valuing this life and not the afterlife, and many other criteria. I think by default we're like this but some people think their way out of it or use Eastern disciplines or even take acid to alter their perspective.

  4. #24
    Senior Member SquirrelTao's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Night View Post
    What is the nature of experience, but the expression of an event? The nuances of which trickle south into the trenches of our personal biological hierarchy, awaiting our (flawed) classification.
    What compromises and complicates the process even more is that our concepts act as filters for our experiences and even, in a sense, can create our experiences. The relationship between experience and concept is not one-way; it's full of feedback loops.

    Quote Originally Posted by Night View Post
    From a philosophical basis, what is "truth"? The interplay of biochemistry (your air molecules) cobbles most of our sensory expressions into an approximate biological package (unless the recipient is without otherwise-natural sensory systems). A smell is rarely seen.

    Is this fuzzy globule of pre-biologically-processed information "truth"?
    For me, truth is easier approached in a negative than a positive way. Can something be falsified? If not, then it can't be trusted as "truth" (unless maybe you believe in some sort of direct revelation or direct intuition, but then you may not be able to get other people to trust "your truth"). If it can be falsified - if it is falsifiable - then has anybody falsified it yet? If not, then maybe it can be regarded as provisionally true.

  5. #25
    Furry Critter with Claws Kiddo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SquirrelTao View Post
    I agree with this in one sense but disagree in another. In one sense, I see everything as natural. I see it as impossible for anything to be unnatural.

    In another sense, I see humans and our artifacts as - though part of nature- also unique in nature in that we are able to create our own reality to a greater extent than any other part of nature. We're also unique in that we alone of all the species on earth have the power to willfully live out of harmony with the rest of nature.

    I like the way that the philosopher Ken Wilber puts it when he says that human beings "transcend but include" the rest of the natural world.

    But I agree with the view that there is a reality-in-itself that exists independently of human perception, which is related to the lived reality of human beings and our experiences, and I liked your earlier example of wavelengths of light that human beings perceive as color. I share your basic view that you expressed somewhere in this thread of the importance of including as many perceptions and perspectives as possible to obtain a richer composite of the human mediation of reality.
    It's an interesting divergence in opinion. For me, the abstraction of the human world may not exist in perfect accordance with the natural world.

    Sorry, but I'm not sure what you mean by "their quantitative forms". Could you give an example?
    In the sense of equality and liberty, they are values that deal with the quantity of power which is expressed in ideas like "freedom", "opportunity", and "resources". If everyone has the same amount of power, then it is equality. If each individual is allowed the greatest amount of power, then it is liberty.

    However, liberty is obviously not in accordance with equality, since some individuals could enjoy more power than others based on differences outside their control and equality limits the amount of power each individual can enjoy.

    I value equality and liberty, and I would like to have a stronger argument to make than "personal preference" if I were ever in a hypothetical situation where I had to argue for my liberty and equality with some superior or more powerful being or person (like Q on Star Trek or Dostoevsky's Grand Inquisitor). I want there to be a way, but I don't see a way (other than the pragmatic way of strength in numbers of a bunch of other people who join with me who also have a personal preference for liberty and equality).
    From a quantitative perspective, its all about power balance. For a group to best function, there needs to be a good balance of liberty and equality.

    I think that there are natural processes that produce human values. For one thing, I think that we as mammals evolved to care for our young. The emotion of love enabled us to delay self-gratification to care for the next generation. I think that evolution resulted in advances to make us feel emotional rewards that enabled us overcome the "selfish gene" in order to cooperate - not only to tend our young but also to have friends and kinship groups.

    I also think that there are processes at work that generate communities of people who value such things as honesty. This is because a community that did not value honesty would become weakened eventually, and a stronger community that valued honesty would dominate or change it. Same goes for too much violence in a community. But then, there are conflicting processes that result in the opposite. If everybody in a community is honest, they all become trusting, then they become gullible and an outsider or a bad apple can wreak havok. So there will be some "selection" for some dishonesty to keep a community strong. Also a "selection" for some violence and aggression for a similar reason.

    Of course, right now we're witnessing in our world many examples of the strong acting in ways that make them outcompete or outdo the rest of us in some way without ultimately benefiting the common good. Like predatory lending practices causing the housing bubble, for just one example.

    And here is where I'll just lay out my own personal interest in ethical issues. I care about things like global warming, species extinction, peak oil, torture, food scarcity, and many other things. In my experience discussing ethics as a philosophical issue, I don't find that it goes in a practical direction. Which would be the direction of enabling people to make a better decision after thinking about it. As opposed to analysis paralysis. And this then leaves a whole arena of action to politics - without that politics being very guided by philosophy, except for whatever default worldview the players have. And the biggest players aren't playing on the basis of principles. They're not the dreaded ideologues. They just want wealth and power. And many other people walking around are also not ideologues - they just want to get their paycheck, shop, watch TV and drink beer. Everybody seems to have a fear that strong ideas will lead to ideology, but I feel they go overboard and disable ideas themselves, where ideas may be able to help our world. Which is a big part of my frustration with things like relativism. Somebody said in another thread that relativism permits no standard for criticism, and it shared that trait with dogma. I agree with that poster in that we need to avoid both relativism and dogma so that we don't disable thought itself as something that can help us make better decisions for our own lives and for the common good. And I keep using "common good", which would be instantly philosophized away in a debate, which is also kind of frustrating, because most people can agree that they don't like the way Hurricane Katrina was handled, for just one example.

    Getting back to the nature of values, however, I think it's possible to explain, at least somewhat sketchily, the natural processes that result in people having values. But in another sense, how can you say it's good for communities to even survive in the first place? The people in the community think it's good (and I think it's good), but how can it be deemed good in a metaphysical sense? A demon on Buffy the Vampire Slayer would not care. Q on Star Trek would not care. A human being who was very philosophically inclined, who took a transpersonal perspective that "well, we're all just energy anyways, and we'll all return to energy, so living and dying don't really matter in the grand scheme of things, anyway" would also not necessarily care about what the people in the community think is good.

    It's like you have to not only be a human being, but also be a human being who has a standpoint that is about living in the present as a human being, and valuing this life and not the afterlife, and many other criteria. I think by default we're like this but some people think their way out of it or use Eastern disciplines or even take acid to alter their perspective.
    Very interesting perspective.

    We agree at least that there are natural processes that dictate values. In the case of liberty and equality, my thoughts are that they are a genetic predispositions to group formation.
    Quote Originally Posted by Silently Honest View Post
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  6. #26
    Senior Member SquirrelTao's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kiddo View Post
    It's an interesting divergence in opinion. For me, the abstraction of the human world may not exist in perfect accordance with the natural world.
    Actually, I agree with you here. I just think it's natural for human beings to have the ability to think of things that are not in perfect accordance with the rest of the natural world.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kiddo View Post
    In the sense of equality and liberty, they are values that deal with the quantity of power which is expressed in ideas like "freedom", "opportunity", and "resources". If everyone has the same amount of power, then it is equality. If each individual is allowed the greatest amount of power, then it is liberty.
    Okay, I think I can imagine how it would be possible to quantify power, equality and liberty if we had the ability to perceive them enough to do so. Which gets back to your point about including as many perceptions as possible. So that is a start. It's very abstract, and it quickly gets messy in practice, but as you say, maybe it's "corrupted" by the imperfections of perception.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kiddo View Post
    However, liberty is obviously not in accordance with equality, since some individuals could enjoy more power than others based on differences outside their control and equality limits the amount of power each individual can enjoy.

    From a quantitative perspective, its all about power balance. For a group to best function, there needs to be a good balance of liberty and equality.
    Okay, I see lots of problems here that are mostly complications of modern life. I believe that in a simpler era, Darwinism would actually take care of it. What I mean is that, for just one example, we live in an era when most people can't begin to understand the workings of high finance and its games, which have a profound impact on how the world operates. Yet when bubbles collapse and sustainability issues are not addressed, perhaps the world might be returned to primitivism and thus a more direct relationship to the workings of Darwinism (whether anybody liked it or not). Darwinism would be the objective part. How people perceive it, or even whether they perceive it, would be relative. How they reacted to it would be contingent. Not that I'm advocating social Darwinism at all. Leaving that aside...

    In terms of ethics and politics, are you proposing that you have an objective basis to argue with others on behalf of your values of liberty and equality? You had seemed to be leery of grounding values in the natural world in a way that would allow somebody to insist that others who don't follow those values are irrational and immoral.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kiddo View Post
    We agree at least that there are natural processes that dictate values. In the case of liberty and equality, my thoughts are that they are a genetic predispositions to group formation.
    I don't think the natural processes dictate values, because humans have the ability, as you have expressed it, to think of abstractions that are out of accord with the rest of the natural world. I would add that humans have the ability (but only temporarily, until nature collects the overdue bills) to build man-made systems that are out of accord with the rest of the natural world.

    One problem I see is that the powerful have the ability to make the less powerful pay the bills when nature comes collecting on them. Thus throwing us back on ourselves as humans who have to come up with our own values and work out the difficult business of negotiating them in our shared existence. Nature won't do it for us, though we can certainly gain insights from nature.

  7. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by SquirrelTao View Post
    Actually, I agree with you here. I just think it's natural for human beings to have the ability to think of things that are not in perfect accordance with the rest of the natural world.
    Ah, so it is just a semantic difference of opiinion based on the word "natural".

    Okay, I see lots of problems here that are mostly complications of modern life. I believe that in a simpler era, Darwinism would actually take care of it. What I mean is that, for just one example, we live in an era when most people can't begin to understand the workings of high finance and its games, which have a profound impact on how the world operates. Yet when bubbles collapse and sustainability issues are not addressed, perhaps the world might be returned to primitivism and thus a more direct relationship to the workings of Darwinism (whether anybody liked it or not). Darwinism would be the objective part. How people perceive it, or even whether they perceive it, would be relative. How they reacted to it would be contingent. Not that I'm advocating social Darwinism at all. Leaving that aside...
    Darwinism is an inept theory. The actual natural selection theory even rejects it on the basis that such difference must occur over many, many generations, not over a life time.

    In terms of ethics and politics, are you proposing that you have an objective basis to argue with others on behalf of your values of liberty and equality? You had seemed to be leery of grounding values in the natural world in a way that would allow somebody to insist that others who don't follow those values are irrational and immoral.
    My idea for an objective basis is there exists a natural process that allows us to percieve something that we interpret as values. However, there is enough difference between how every individual experiences values in the human world that it would be irrational and probably immoral to assume that one perspective of how to live in accordance with those values is superior to another. To achieve the greatest amount of accordance to the actual natural process, we would need the greatest number of perceptions, so the outliers can cancel each other out and the appropriate balance can be reached.

    However, just to point out, "rationality" and "morality" are human concepts. They have no basis in the natural world. This is another divergence form Rand's position as she felt that the world was rational and living in accordance with that rationality is morality.

    I don't think the natural processes dictate values, because humans have the ability, as you have expressed it, to think of abstractions that are out of accord with the rest of the natural world. I would add that humans have the ability (but only temporarily, until nature collects the overdue bills) to build man-made systems that are out of accord with the rest of the natural world.
    I think humans can act outside of accordance of the natural world, but as you said, the natural world cannot be permanently circumvented.

    One problem I see is that the powerful have the ability to make the less powerful pay the bills when nature comes collecting on them. Thus throwing us back on ourselves as humans who have to come up with our own values and work out the difficult business of negotiating them in our shared existence. Nature won't do it for us, though we can certainly gain insights from nature.
    That is an interesting perception, however I believe the most powerful are actually in the weakest position. They have to dedicate most of their power to maintain their power and they live under constant threat of being toppled.
    Quote Originally Posted by Silently Honest View Post
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    Senior Member SquirrelTao's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kiddo View Post
    Darwinism is an inept theory. The actual natural selection theory even rejects it on the basis that such difference must occur over many, many generations, not over a life time.
    I guess I was using "Darwinism" in a sloppy way. The idea I intended to convey was that of non-biological natural laws operating in a way that is roughly analogous to natural selection. For instance when you consider my example of the hypothetical community of completely honest people who learn to be trusting and gullible and then get taken advantage of by an outsider or a bad apple who is born into their midst. Then their community is destroyed in some way or at least can't go on existing in the same form. Whereas a hypothetical community of mostly honest people, with a few dishonest ones to keep people on their toes, ends up the stronger community in an imperfect world. But a wholly dishonest community would of course be too corrupt to survive as well, since there would not be enough honest labor or enough cooperation. There would be too much wasted energy spent defending against each other. This isn't exactly social Darwinism, which I was trying to be careful to point out, because I was (probably mis)using the term Darwinism.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kiddo View Post
    My idea for an objective basis is there exists a natural process that allows us to percieve something that we interpret as values. However, there is enough difference between how every individual experiences values in the human world that it would be irrational and probably immoral to assume that one perspective of how to live in accordance with those values is superior to another. To achieve the greatest amount of accordance to the actual natural process, we would need the greatest number of perceptions, so the outliers can cancel each other out and the appropriate balance can be reached.
    Would there be any way to falsify poor perceptions? What do you mean by "outliers"? Abolitionists were once outliers, were they not? Unless I misunderstand what you mean by the term. How would this process of differ from, say, an opinion survey?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kiddo View Post
    However, just to point out, "rationality" and "morality" are human concepts. They have no basis in the natural world. This is another divergence form Rand's position as she felt that the world was rational and living in accordance with that rationality is morality.
    Okay, but then what are the "outliers"? If not irrational and immoral? This gets back to what you mean by the term.


    Quote Originally Posted by Kiddo View Post
    I think humans can act outside of accordance of the natural world, but as you said, the natural world cannot be permanently circumvented.
    Yep, agreed.


    Quote Originally Posted by Kiddo View Post
    That is an interesting perception, however I believe the most powerful are actually in the weakest position. They have to dedicate most of their power to maintain their power and they live under constant threat of being toppled.
    That's a keen insight that gives me hope.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SquirrelTao View Post
    I guess I was using "Darwinism" in a sloppy way. The idea I intended to convey was that of non-biological natural laws operating in a way that is roughly analogous to natural selection. For instance when you consider my example of the hypothetical community of completely honest people who learn to be trusting and gullible and then get taken advantage of by an outsider or a bad apple who is born into their midst. Then their community is destroyed in some way or at least can't go on existing in the same form. Whereas a hypothetical community of mostly honest people, with a few dishonest ones to keep people on their toes, ends up the stronger community in an imperfect world. But a wholly dishonest community would of course be too corrupt to survive as well, since there would not be enough honest labor or enough cooperation. There would be too much wasted energy spent defending against each other. This isn't exactly social Darwinism, which I was trying to be careful to point out, because I was (probably mis)using the term Darwinism.
    Social Darwinism is an inept theory no matter how you want to phrase it. It has absolutely 0 scientific basis. Even Darwin himself rejected many of the ideas that are inherent in it.

    Would there be any way to falsify poor perceptions? What do you mean by "outliers"? Abolitionists were once outliers, were they not? Unless I misunderstand what you mean by the term. How would this process of differ from, say, an opinion survey?
    Abolitionists were always outliers. Even during the Civil War.

    What I mean by outliers are those who hold the extreme sides of certain values.

    Okay, but then what are the "outliers"? If not irrational and immoral? This gets back to what you mean by the term.
    Outliers, being extreme perceptions of certain values, are the best example of human perceptual error. For example, people who value liberty completely over equality and people who value equality completely over liberty cancel each other out in the grand scheme of things.

    That's a keen insight that gives me hope.
    It's always wise to remember the powerful are just human like the rest of us.
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    OMNi: Wisdom at the cost of Sanity.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kiddo View Post
    Social Darwinism is an inept theory no matter how you want to phrase it. It has absolutely 0 scientific basis. Even Darwin himself rejected many of the ideas that are inherent in it.
    Yeah, I realize that, and I am repulsed by social Darwinism as well.

    I did not see my example as social Darwinism. I actually got it from a programming book. It was a little software simulation. It piqued my interest but I have not researched this whole area in enough depth to formulate anything precisely. There are areas of current research that go into things like cellular automata, self-organization and other kinds of simple natural laws that seem to apply equally well to the natural and the man-made worlds. With the man-made world, I would offer the important caveat that these laws constrain but do not determine human behavior, in the same way that gravity does. They set parameters, but within those parameters, humans have lots of choices to make. So this is really the area that has influenced me, not old-fashioned social Darwinism. Could it be social Darwinism rearing its ugly head again, in a new form? Possibly. But I think it will be what we make of it. It is still a young and controversial area of science and inquiry. I don't think it has to lead to social Darwinism. Anyway, the mere act by itself of comparing evolution to human society can lead to all kinds of other ideas. For example, you can observe cooperation as well as competition in evolution. There's nothing inherently fascist or social Darwinist about being interested in exploring the implications of certain simple rules that produce complex results and that seem to operate universally.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kiddo View Post
    Abolitionists were always outliers. Even during the Civil War.

    What I mean by outliers are those who hold the extreme sides of certain values.

    Outliers, being extreme perceptions of certain values, are the best example of human perceptual error. For example, people who value liberty completely over equality and people who value equality completely over liberty cancel each other out in the grand scheme of things.
    What I was getting at was actually the same critique that is made of cultural relativism. It permits no standard by which to reform a society, as the abolitionists did.

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