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Free Speech and Tact posted 04 February 2006 in Philosophy DiscussionFree Speech and Tact by Gaijin San, Commoner

I'm sure everyones familiar with the controversy over some cartoons depicing Muhammed in a Danish newspaper

<!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4675462.stm">http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4675462.stm</a><!-- m -->

They claim it was done to test the true extent of freedom of expression in Denmark.Personally I think it was a bad idea but many Muslim commentators say it should be illegal.At the same time a proposal to outlaw "incitement to religious hatred" has been defeated in the British parliament and just when you thought the whole controversy couldn't get any more heated the leader of the British National Party, Nick Griffin, was acquitted of all charges of incitement to racial hatred during a speech he made in which he called Islam a "vicious, wicked faith"

<!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/frontpage/story/0,,1701246,00.html">http://www.guardian.co.uk/frontpage/sto ... 46,00.html</a><!-- m -->

A retrial has been ordered but I think he's unlikely to be convicted.

Should he be? and should non-Muslims be expected to conform to Islamic laws such as those forbidding representations of their prophet?

How free should free speech be? view post


Free Speech and Tact posted 04 February 2006 in Philosophy DiscussionFree Speech and Tact by Tol h'Eddes, Auditor

I haven't seen these cartoons, as they aren't being published in Canada yet. So, my opinion is biased by what I read and by the opinion of others.

But I have been able to retrace the one that has been printed in France-Soir this week, and from what I see, it doesn't strike me as insulting.

See for yourself : [url=http&#58;//www&#46;judeoscope&#46;ca/IMG/jpg/france-soir_&#46;jpg:3sbrhz4v]Cartoon[/url:3sbrhz4v]

If someone knows where to find the Danish cartoons, could you send me the URL? I would like to make my own idea on the subject.

You say that you thought it was a bad idea? Why is that? Have you seen these cartoons?

In Canadian newspaper, there is not a month going by without god, Jesus, or any other christian personality being caricatured. Do you see christian taking arms?

I personally think that some Muslim, a minority (but at the same time, the louder of the batch), are beginning to jump at every shadow. They are overreacting on some 12 cartoons that was published 6 months ago. But as I said earlier, I did not saw them and I don't know if they were insulting or merely humoristic.

I will finish with this quote, from France-Soir editorialist, loosely translated from french. You can find it [url=http&#58;//www&#46;canoe&#46;com/infos/international/archives/2006/02/20060202-1613:3sbrhz4v]here[/url:3sbrhz4v].

Can one imagine a society which would add the interdicts of various religions? What would remain freedom to think?


Edit :
Precised that it was not all Muslim but a louder minority who were overreacting. Call that auto-censure <!-- s:) --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_smile.gif" alt=":)" title="Smile" /><!-- s:) --> view post


Free Speech and Tact posted 04 February 2006 in Philosophy DiscussionFree Speech and Tact by Tol h'Eddes, Auditor

Just read in a newspaper that the chief-editor of Shihane, a weekly Jordanian newspaper, has been arrested for having printed the controversed cartoons.

Freedom of speech, freedom of press? There is no such thing in our world it would seem... view post


Free Speech and Tact posted 04 February 2006 in Philosophy DiscussionFree Speech and Tact by xhaldur, Candidate

Heh, at a certain point I think you have to sit back and realize one thing: it's a cartoon.

For a culture that was hundreds of years ahead of Europe in philosophy, sanitation, mathematics, etc, etc. It baffles me that a religion that urges peace and a culture that old and advanced hasn't developed a sense of context or humor.

Now some obscure Danish paper publishes a drawing of Mohammed with a bomb on his head and the muslims are ready to go Jihad on them – they threaten to plant bombs, IN THE NAME OF MOHAMMED. Talk about making their point for them. view post


Free Speech and Tact posted 04 February 2006 in Philosophy DiscussionFree Speech and Tact by Gaijin San, Commoner

If someone knows where to find the Danish cartoons, could you send me the URL? I would like to make my own idea on the subject.


The cartoons can be seen here

<!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://sabbah.biz/mt/archives/2006/01/11/freedom-of-racism/">http://sabbah.biz/mt/archives/2006/01/1 ... of-racism/</a><!-- m -->

You say that you thought it was a bad idea? Why is that?


I think they were extremely naive if they thought it would not provoke the response it has.I believe they should be free to do what they've done but I wouldn't have done it myself just as I think people should be free to express any view they hold even though I may not share it.I also think there must be more productive uses to put freedom of expression to than ridiculing an already marginalised and paranoid minority. view post


Free Speech and Tact posted 04 February 2006 in Philosophy DiscussionFree Speech and Tact by Tol h'Eddes, Auditor

Yes, but if it was truly a test, they have proven their points. With everything that has happened this week, it is easy to see that we cannot criticize Muslim, in general, without some fundamentalist crying for racism.

Hell ! They even burned the Danish and Norway embassies today ! Is this a way to answer to these cartoons? If so, where will it stop?

If it's the few minority who do this, what are the rest doing? Why can't the majority stop the minority from killing everyone disagreeing with them ? Or is it the majority bombing and killing and the minority doing nothing ?

You spoke of someone, in the British National Party who told that Islam was a "vicious, wicked faith". How can people perceive it otherwise when everything they see about it is violence? Media plays a greater part in our understanding of the world. They could be the one responsible for this misunderstanding.

But, with what we hear everyday about Muslim and Islam, do I think they're striving toward better understanding and less hatred?
No. Unless they dramatically change in the short future, unless those Muslim that disagree with the kind of violence we saw today take action and condemn those who did it, I believe this world is cursed to a very bleak future.

They do not help their cause by bombing and killing innocent. view post


Free Speech and Tact posted 05 February 2006 in Philosophy DiscussionFree Speech and Tact by Nasrudin's Shadow, Candidate

I think that any limits to freedom of speech destroy the whole notion. As to whether freedom of speech is desirable is another question...
The real question, to me, is:

When sufficient damage has been done, will the guilty parties take responsibility? Will they even realize their guilt? view post


Free Speech and Tact posted 05 February 2006 in Philosophy DiscussionFree Speech and Tact by Peter, Auditor

A speaker at a rally in London outside the Danish Embassy on Friday I think...

He called on "the governments of the Muslim world to completely sever all contact with European governments" until they had "controlled the media".


I find this shocking. Really, really, really shocking. And yet I would find it even worse if this sort of call were stopped.

We need to distinguish between our judgements of what was actually said and someone's right to say it. We can condemn when something is said, we can say that someone ought not to have said something, but all these claims that freedom of speech ought to be limited by responsibility is either a totally vacuous statement or an attack on the notion of freedom of speech. So peaceful protests attempting to inform the Danish and other European newspapers that people were offended by these cartoons and that they think it was wrong to publish them are perfectly acceptable.

Most of the protests seem to go beyond this claim (which is not to tar all the protesters with the same brush, some/many may well only be claiming the above). Attacking buildings, marching through London calling on terrorist organisations to target Europe, waving placards saying "Freedom go to Hell" and "Europe, you will pay. Your 3/11 is on its way!!!" seem to be disputing the actual right to freedom of speech rather than whether it ought to have been said.

Now back to why I think that the claim that freedom of speech ought to be limited by responsibility is either unacceptable or vacuous.

It is vacuous if it just means that people be held responsible for what they said. This will have to be a very minor claim, just saying that the person you agree or disagree with, the person you direct your arguments against is the person who said "X", and the people who support "X". So, freedom of speech requires that someone acknowledge what they say as being their own. Of course when saqying things which may well end up with death threats etc. this responsibility may be mitigated and actual identity hidden say. So the authors of the cartoons cannot simply pretend that they didn't do them, but nor do they need to proclaim authorship openly either. This claim is empty of restrictions on how one may use freedom of speech, and so is vacuous, at least within the context of this debate.

If responsible is used in a different manner, meaning rather that people ought not to speak "irresponsibly", then we get into difficult territory. Who defines irresponsibility? In the case of most of the current claims, it would seem to be a claim that doing something that is seen as offensive to "Muslims", and therefore that this is irresponsible (I put it in inverted commas because I find the notion of referring to such a large group of people in one term and pretending that somehow it means something very suspect). But what is seen as irresponsible by one person is seen as perfectly reasonable by another and the whole point about freedom of speech is that it provides a forum in which such disputes can be resolved. So to claim that freedom of speech must be limited by this interpretation of responsibility is already to disagree with a fundamental part of the doctrine of the freedom of speech.

I began by saying that we need to distinguish between "ought not to publish/say X" and "ought not to have the right to publish/say X" and I think that the latter is unacceptable, but now I want to argue that the case for saying that "ought not to publish the cartoons" is wrong, and rather that it is perfectly reasonable to publish them (not of course that one ought to, just that there is no "ought not to").

First of all, let us begin with the weakest argument, that the Koran forbids the depiction of Muhammed in picture. We will not even deal with the argument that their ethics ought to be imposed upon us because it does not even form a part of our moral spectrum of thought. Rather, a better argument for this would be to claim that because of this prohibition in the Koran it is especially offensive to Muslims to have such cartoons at all.

I think that to answer this we need simply consider the problem of offense. What is it to be offended? It involves hurt and the impression of having been wronged (I would say), but the problem with this is that one is arguing that the offense caused is the wrong. This is obviously problematic and surely it is reasonable to think that we should only take offense really seriously if we think that they have good reason to be offended (i.e. they have been wronged), but then the wronging must come before the offense and so the offense cannot be the source of the wrong which makes us think that "ought not to publish X". Of course if someone has not actually been wronged, but still feels hurt we do have other moral duties, but these relate only to the hurt and not to the wrong.

So, what other arguments can be made to make us think that the action was wrong in itself and therefore that it was reasonable for people to feel offended? We have already rejected the idea that it was wrong because non-Muslims broke a law created for Muslims (well perhaps for everyone, but that claim in itself we say is limited to Muslims). So there must be some other reason to think that the cartoons were wrong.

The best claim is that there was an intention behind the cartoons and their publishing to cause trouble, to incite problems and to hurt people (and because it is wrong to intend to hurt people then this would be to cause them an offence...). But is this really what we think they were doing? Some people seem to assume that this was their intention, but what really matters is the fact of whether the cartoonists intended to cause hurt or intended to try and open up a debate about Islam in the modern world, knowing that people would be hurt by it inadvertantly.

The latter is acceptable so long as the hurt isn't too great, or isn't unreasonably too great. So if I say that I think that "X" is overweight with the intention of getting them to do more exercise, the fact that they might be hurt by what I say is probably not great enough to make my act morally wrong. If they do actually take massive offense at this, so much so that it might otherwise make the act wrong, then generally we will think they are overreacting and so will still not think that what we said was wrong.

Is it therefore acceptable to do something which is intended to do one thing, but will also offend a number of people from a certain religious group. I have to lay my cards out on the table here and say that whilst the level of hurt might be very large, I think it is unreasonable that it be so large. What does someone else's opinion really matter, especially if you think they have got it so wrong. They are merely foolish, or misguided and being hurt by such things is unreasonable.

So, if the intention of the Danish cartoonists and editors was to cause hurt then we can say that they ought not to have published the cartoons, but if it was to do something else, say to open up public debate then we cannot say that it ought not to have been published. I believe the latter and not the former and so think that no criticism is due.

Rigth this is a long post for me and I am sure there will be inconsistencies and assumptions which I have not specified. Please feel free to blow me out of the water on this. view post


Free Speech and Tact posted 05 February 2006 in Philosophy DiscussionFree Speech and Tact by AjDeath, Didact

If you put limits on speech then it really wouldn't be free now would it?

A saying comes to mind (forgot who said it) I may disagree with what you say but I would die for your right to say it. view post


Free Speech and Tact posted 05 February 2006 in Philosophy DiscussionFree Speech and Tact by Peter, Auditor

The quote is Evelyn Beatrice Hall's in "The Friends of Voltaire" where she paraphrases Voltaire's stance and references can be found here

<!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://www.quotationspage.com/quotes/Voltaire/31">http://www.quotationspage.com/quotes/Voltaire/31</a><!-- m -->

although he comes very close to saying it when he says

Monsieur l'abbé, I detest what you write, but I would give my life to make it possible for you to continue to write.
Voltaire, letter to M. le Riche, February 6, 1770
French author, humanist, rationalist, &amp; satirist (1694 - 1778)
view post


Free Speech and Tact posted 09 February 2006 in Philosophy DiscussionFree Speech and Tact by Rellion, Candidate

The Iranian president is further claiming now that the Danish cartoons are part of a 'Zionist plot' in retaliation of the Hamas victory in the Palestinian elections.

Daily Ireland Article[/url:lw06gy2o]

Never mind the fact that the elections took place in January and the cartoons were originally published in September. With the rhetoric coming out of the more extemist Islamist nations and leaders over these cartoons, it is very difficult to not believe they are being used as a tool to inflame rage against the West by those in authority.

It is very hard to believe, even in worst case scenarios, that any of the violence and property damage being perpetrated over these cartoons is a proper and justified response to what was drawn. The unjustified outrage stemming from these cartoons seems to be an endemic problem with the system of Islamist countries. Is it, then, a fundamental problem with the society of Middle Eastern nations where the populace feels that the only answer to what they feel to be any form of insult or disagreement is violence?

The answer I come to each time I ask myself the question is discomforting, and as a rational adult, I am forced to believe more and more of the stereotypes of the average Muslim are true. I know, individually, they can be very good, honorable people. I work with several who aren't burning Danish flags over the situation, and have maintained a sense of humor about it. They disagree with the contents of the drawings, but are able to seperate out that disagreement and realize that the Danish cartoonists also had the right to publish it.

Daryl Cagle, a political cartoonist for MSNBC, recently posted a cartoon in his blog of a skull called 'The Face of Muhammed' by Brian Fairrington, which had the words 'Death, Hate, Anti-Semitism' and other such things etched onto it. Someone who had seen this cartoon took it, modified it, and changed the name to 'The Face of Jesus' and added a few new phrases on the skull such as 'Bigotry' and 'Gay-Bashing'. (See the two pictured - [url=http&#58;//cagle&#46;com/news/BLOG/BLOGgifs/Fairringtonpirate350&#46;gif:lw06gy2o]here[/url:lw06gy2o]) Muslim writers, according to Mr. Cagle, expressed great distress and outrage through emails to him about Mr. Cagle putting the image on his site (<!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://cagle.com">http://cagle.com</a><!-- m -->, for the unaware).

As a Christian, I disagree with the statements expressed by the 'Face of Jesus' rendition of the drawing. I can, as a rational adult, also understand where the sentiment comes from, view it as the criticism it is, and move on with my life. There is not sense of outrage and hate, and I am glad of that. I do not think that this makes me superior (it's my devilish good looks and charm that do! <!-- s:lol: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_lol.gif" alt=":lol:" title="Laughing" /><!-- s:lol: --> ), but instead marks me as a rational adult human being.

I will ask one question before ending this ramble which has gone on far too long. Does this mean that the middle eastern cultures we see today attempt to undermine the rational thought of their citizenry in an effort to fuel their own agendas? Or is this simply the fate of the organized religion of Islam and how it teaches its disciples to think - irrationally?
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Free Speech and Tact posted 09 February 2006 in Philosophy DiscussionFree Speech and Tact by Nasrudin's Shadow, Candidate

Quote: &quot;Rellion&quot;:3l4z0zh3
The answer I come to each time I ask myself the question is discomforting, and as a rational adult, I am forced to believe more and more of the stereotypes of the average Muslim are true.

...

As a Christian, I disagree with the statements expressed by the 'Face of Jesus' rendition of the drawing. I can, as a rational adult, also understand where the sentiment comes from, view it as the criticism it is, and move on with my life. There is not sense of outrage and hate, and I am glad of that. I do not think that this makes me superior (it's my devilish good looks and charm that do! <!-- s:lol: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_lol.gif" alt=":lol:" title="Laughing" /><!-- s:lol: --> ), but instead marks me as a rational adult human being.

...

I will ask one question before ending this ramble which has gone on far too long. Does this mean that the middle eastern cultures we see today attempt to undermine the rational thought of their citizenry in an effort to fuel their own agendas? Or is this simply the fate of the organized religion of Islam and how it teaches its disciples to think - irrationally?[/url][/quote:3l4z0zh3]

Clearly you believe that you already possess the 'tool(s)' you need for the 'job' of passing judgment on this situation, but what if it is more complex than this? What if it is too complex for a rational adult to understand on his own? view post


Free Speech and Tact posted 09 February 2006 in Philosophy DiscussionFree Speech and Tact by Rellion, Candidate

Judgement, I think, is the wrong word.

I like to believe I have the rational capacity to form my own opinion and choose my own beliefs. In this my opinion has been further and further swayed towards the negative of the protesters in the middle east.

As I said before, the question is begged -- What causes it? The regimes and leaders of the region, or the culture and religion itself?

The former makes it a lot more easy to isolate and understand the cause, while the latter is much more troubling, in my opinion. view post


Free Speech and Tact posted 09 February 2006 in Philosophy DiscussionFree Speech and Tact by Nasrudin's Shadow, Candidate

What if FEAR forms your opinions and chooses your beliefs, and you rationalize them later? What if PRIDE or VANITY controls you? What if the MEDIA influences you? Or your upbringing? Or your FINANCIAL situation? What about ENVIRONMENT, or FAITH, or CHEMICAL IMBALANCE? How could you deny the influence of your DIET? The NEED to PROTECT your children? You must LUST? Surely, sometimes, because you are smart, or charitable, or neighbourly, you feel you deserve a little MORE than certain other people, don't you?

What if your neighbours--hated or not--were invaded and occupied for control of their only valuable resource? One in which your country was also rich?

Likewise, what if these same things influence people in the Middle East? And add CONSTANT CONFLICT, a long history of Western political and economic INTERFERENCE, POLITICAL INSTABILITY.

Show one culture to the other through a biased media, THEN what is true?
THEN what questions remain?

All the questions, I think.

Why do you think that EVERYONE who comes out against other cultures mentions some co-worker or acquaintance who is a member of said culture and is different? Nice? Relatable? It is because being around someone reminds us of our human bond, comforts us through real feelings of brotherhood.

It is far easier to feel, indeed almost impossible not to feel, only how different we are from far off cultures. This is why we are so very good at making war, and so very bad at making peace. Our FEARFUL NATURE used to keep us alive, but now it just keeps us killing one another. And these feelings are exploited by the people who lead us into war with the 'other'--the people who have something to gain from their defeat.

Anyway, I'm starting to lose my righteous zeal. I just think your questions are too simple. view post


Free Speech and Tact posted 10 February 2006 in Philosophy DiscussionFree Speech and Tact by Peter, Auditor

What if FEAR forms your opinions and chooses your beliefs, and you rationalize them later? What if PRIDE or VANITY controls you? What if the MEDIA influences you? Or your upbringing? Or your FINANCIAL situation? What about ENVIRONMENT, or FAITH, or CHEMICAL IMBALANCE? How could you deny the influence of your DIET? The NEED to PROTECT your children? You must LUST? Surely, sometimes, because you are smart, or charitable, or neighbourly, you feel you deserve a little MORE than certain other people, don't you?


What if fear forms our opinions and stops us from realising it? What if our evolutionary upbringing makes us think we have good reasons for something, but in fact all there is behind that opinion is evolutionary necessity?

This last may sound sarcastic, but it really isn't meant that way, it is a serious point. Essentially, there are a great number of things, possibly an infinite number, which can claim that the reasons we think we act are not the reasons for why do in fact act the way we do. BUT, in the end, the only faculty we have which can hope to tell us that we are not acting for the reasons we think we are, the only faculty that can spot this, is reason. Therefore, the best faculty we can use to try (note try, not succeed) to avoid being determined by fear etc. etc., is a self-critical reason. So, when someone is being reasonable (not just thinks they are) then they have a better chance of knowing the reasons behind their actions (namely practical reason).

Of course you can claim that my resoning here begs the question, after all I am using reason to prove the reasonableness of... you guessed it, reason. Actually I don't think I am, I think reason is a lens through which we view the world, not a tool we find in it and then bring to bear, but maybe I am fooling myself over this. Well, maybe, but if I am then I can only say that surely NOTHING is secure (aaaah the problem of radical scepticism).

Basically my point is that if we are genuinely self-critical then I think we have a better chance of discovering something approximating to truth and this is what I took Rellion to be saying.

What if your neighbours--hated or not--were invaded and occupied for control of their only valuable resource? One in which your country was also rich?


Whilst that adequately sums up what seems to be an attitude amongst some people (and not only in the Middle East) I have to say I think it is not particularly fair. To say one country invades another for reason X is to make that country a unitary object which wills etc. as one thing. "America" is surely an entity made up of a vast number of people, all with their own agendas, desires, theories of ethics etc. and to claim that "it" invaded a country for a single reason is to ignore this.

Show one culture to the other through a biased media, THEN what is true?
THEN what questions remain?


Again, the question itself is biased, in claiming the Western media is biased you assume that it does not portray the truth, implying that you know the truth (or at least you know what is not the truth) and you assume that rational adults straining with all their mental faculties to make reasonable judgements cannot discern the truth even with imperfect materials (i.e. supposedly biased media etc.).

Why do you think that EVERYONE who comes out against other cultures mentions some co-worker or acquaintance who is a member of said culture and is different? Nice? Relatable? It is because being around someone reminds us of our human bond, comforts us through real feelings of brotherhood.


On the one hand, so depressingly true, but on the other proximity is not always decisive. In terms of proximity the Jews in Poland lived cheek by jowl with the non-Jewish Poles and yet there was found some of the most rabid anti-semitism this world has seen. Proximity helps, but community is more of a glue and far better at excluding people and creating "the enemy" and "the other". Consider how most Britons view Austrailia vs how they view France. I think Freud said something about no difference being so small we cannot use it to discriminate against people based on it.

This is why I find myself becoming more and more negative with regards to the notion of community in general. Wouldn't the world be so much better if we stopped regarding ourselves as &lt;insert nationality/race/religion etc.&gt; and regarding others as &lt;insert nationality/race/religion etc.&gt; and instead just saw each other as people (which the theory of ethics I follow values as an end in itself and worthy of absolute respect). Sigh, forward cosmopolitanism (which is why I like the EU and the UN, the closest we have ever got to these sentiments). view post


Free Speech and Tact posted 10 February 2006 in Philosophy DiscussionFree Speech and Tact by Nasrudin's Shadow, Candidate

Quote: &quot;Peter&quot;:2eod5mi1
What if FEAR forms your opinions and chooses your beliefs, and you rationalize them later? What if PRIDE or VANITY controls you? What if the MEDIA influences you? Or your upbringing? Or your FINANCIAL situation? What about ENVIRONMENT, or FAITH, or CHEMICAL IMBALANCE? How could you deny the influence of your DIET? The NEED to PROTECT your children? You must LUST? Surely, sometimes, because you are smart, or charitable, or neighbourly, you feel you deserve a little MORE than certain other people, don't you?


What if fear forms our opinions and stops us from realising it? What if our evolutionary upbringing makes us think we have good reasons for something, but in fact all there is behind that opinion is evolutionary necessity?

This last may sound sarcastic, but it really isn't meant that way, it is a serious point. Essentially, there are a great number of things, possibly an infinite number, which can claim that the reasons we think we act are not the reasons for why do in fact act the way we do. BUT, in the end, the only faculty we have which can hope to tell us that we are not acting for the reasons we think we are, the only faculty that can spot this, is reason. Therefore, the best faculty we can use to try (note try, not succeed) to avoid being determined by fear etc. etc., is a self-critical reason. So, when someone is being reasonable (not just thinks they are) then they have a better chance of knowing the reasons behind their actions (namely practical reason).

*************************************************************

to determine the Truth amidst all these various influences.

*************************************************************

Why do you think that EVERYONE who comes out against other cultures mentions some co-worker or acquaintance who is a member of said culture and is different? Nice? Relatable? It is because being around someone reminds us of our human bond, comforts us through real feelings of brotherhood.


On the one hand, so depressingly true, but on the other proximity is not always decisive. In terms of proximity the Jews in Poland lived cheek by jowl with the non-Jewish Poles and yet there was found some of the most rabid anti-semitism this world has seen. Proximity helps, but community is more of a glue and far better at excluding people and creating "the enemy" and "the other". Consider how most Britons view Austrailia vs how they view France. I think Freud said something about no difference being so small we cannot use it to discriminate against people based on it.

*************************************************************

Saying that, in proximity, humans are capable of 'bonding' is not the same as saying that humans will necessarily relate to one another given these circumstances. I've been to high school. My point was that without actual human contact, any sense of kinship between people is theoretical and, so, more easily overlooked.

*************************************************************

This is why I find myself becoming more and more negative with regards to the notion of community in general. Wouldn't the world be so much better if we stopped regarding ourselves as &lt;insert nationality/race/religion etc.&gt; and regarding others as &lt;insert nationality/race/religion etc.&gt; and instead just saw each other as people (which the theory of ethics I follow values as an end in itself and worthy of absolute respect). Sigh, forward cosmopolitanism (which is why I like the EU and the UN, the closest we have ever got to these sentiments).[/quote:2eod5mi1]

*************************************************************
Well said.

Edit: Upon posting this thread, I realised that, probably due to my own ineptitude, my responses appear inside my quotes, so I put my text in bold and separated it via these stylish *'s. view post


Free Speech and Tact posted 10 February 2006 in Philosophy DiscussionFree Speech and Tact by Peter, Auditor

While I believe that humans are influenced, and sometimes controlled, by myriad forces (fear being primary among them), I also believe that reason can counter this to some degree. I do not think that this affects the point I was trying to make. Even if we accept the unlikely position that Reason is an absolute and incorruptable way to determine Truth, it does not necessarily follow that we would be capable of using it to this end.


I think reason is not the only way to determine truth, but it is the only coherent way where we think truth (if it is there) will follow from our actions. If our reasoning is correct, if we are not basing our thinking on false or biased premises and if we are careful not to draw too much from our conclusions then we will begin to approach something resembling truth.

On an aside I include empirical reasoning in our use of reason, not merely logical.

Otherwise, I think I am probably a little more optimistic about reason being able to determine truth than you seem to be, but that is hardly a substantive point of disagreement (at least I don't think it is).

If you mean that reason is really a part of some sort of deep intuition in all humans, I might just agree with you...


I am very wary of the notion of "intuition". It is used in far too many contexts to justify far too much for its use here to be unproblematic (I think at least). Reason is basic, and it is not justified in the same way that we justify say our belief that water is H2O, but this does not mean that we intuit reason and that therefore reasonable discourse is fundamentally no different from conversations which begin "Well, my gut feeling tells me that...". If this isn't what you mean by intuition (and I can certainly see why it wouldn't be) then ignore the above.

I would argue that reason is more the minimum presupposition we have to make in order to be able to make the claim that we understand something about the world. If we assert that we do understand something about the world (and I think we can make this claim) then we have to assert reason. That is as good a justification as we can get for our use of reason, but I would also want to assert that at least logic, like maths, holds whether or not we ever think it (i.e. 2+2=4 is true independently of our study of maths, just like the law of logic that a thing cannot be and not be at the same time).

I would not ever try to deny this. I simply feel that Rellion's questions were inadequate. I was asserting my belief that his 'either or' questions are not, in my opinion, sufficient to cover the complex and important possible influences on these Muslim protests against the West. I hope, as always, that it is understood that my reply was meant to challenge, not to insult


First off, I at least, viewed your reply as a challenge rather than an insult, hence why I replied (not on Rellion's behalf, as if Rellion could not do so himself, but because there were points I wanted to make). I think that whilst there are a great many complexities in the issue, this does not mean that we cannot say that we think the reactions we are seeing from certain people are unreasonable.

The theory of ethics I follow would not allow for the complexities of regional and cultural history to undo the unreasonableness of the reactions of some people, for reason stands above (or perhaps underneath) all culture (I know I haven't specifically argued this, but I find it difficult to see how one could make logic and empirical reasoning relative to culture etc.). What it would allow is that we recognise that this history, this sense of being under attack, all allow us to reduce any blame we might be willing to apportion out. This might sound highly patronising, but I don't think it is. All it says is that sometimes people do wrong, but that they should not really be held responsible for this, because their situation was so hard. For instance, in the novel Sophie's Choice, Sophie is sent to Auschwitz and has to choose which of her two children is to be gassed and which is to be saved. In this case we may well think that there is a moral choice, but there is no way we will hold Sophie responsible for failing to make the right decision when we consider the psychological and moral stress she will be under.

You do not need to know the Truth to determine the existence of a bias--you simply need conflicting reports of a given event. I sometimes like to read and view a number of media reports, in different publications, in different English-speaking countries, relating to a single event. It is a fascinating, if frightening experience, to try to track the truth through such a muddle of different perspectives. I can only imagine (or trust second-hand) what non-English speaking countries might have to report... I did not claim (by implication or otherwise) that I know the Truth, and that no one else does or could. Again, I had hoped that I was making it clear by my tone how difficult it is for anyone to determine the Truth amidst all these various influences.


Ok, I take you point. Nonetheless, the mere fact that you

Yeah, I wish you weren't right (well I think you are right, maybe I am wrong though...). Hey let's all get depressed at the state of the world, Yay.
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Free Speech and Tact posted 10 February 2006 in Philosophy DiscussionFree Speech and Tact by Nasrudin's Shadow, Candidate

Intuition is a tricky topic...I am not sure why I brought it into the discussion, as I have nothing to say about it. I like the idea that some things are ineffable--but maybe that is just me rationalizing my ignorance <!-- s:wink: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_wink.gif" alt=":wink:" title="Wink" /><!-- s:wink: --> .

As for Sophie's Choice...well, the question of responsibility is difficult. I think that responsibility (and therefore blame) is rarely absolute. People should always try to consider all possibilities before assigning responsibility/blame, but, as my previous posts indicate, these possibilities could be nearly endless. Obviously, a line needs to be drawn, and this is where I believe reason may be most useful. I refuse to believe (for the sake of my own sanity) that people are completely out of control and helpless. Just because choices are difficult does not absolve a person of responsibility for his or her actions.

On a related note: have you ever read Primo Levi's Survival in Auschwitz? It is a powerful read, and very much concerned with these issues. In it, the most detestable characters were the Jewish prisoners who collaborated with the Nazis. In return for their 'help' in the running of the camps, the collaborators were given slightly better treatment. Reading it I wondered how anyone could betray others in their same position in such a situation. The more I thought about it, the more I believed that these sorts of betrayals are commonplace, it is the gravity of the situation that is different. Who can say how powerful the instinct to survive and improve one's miserable position really is?

::sigh::

This is kind of depressing, isn't it? view post


Free Speech and Tact posted 12 February 2006 in Philosophy DiscussionFree Speech and Tact by Peter, Auditor

You know I am absolutely convinced that I replied to the above message. It is really weird. I can remember writing things in response to what you said. Seriously. I think I must be going insane. Did I dream replying or did I write out most of one then not have time to finish it and leave thinking I would re-write it? But then that is the sort of thing I would remember normally. Ok, here is something very similar to something else I am convinced I wrote...


The main thing I think about Sophie's Choice is that the difficulty of the situation is enough to reduce her responisbility for failing to do the right thing (if there is a right thing to do, I have heard one philosopher say that perhaps more important than getting the right decision is coming to that decision in the right way).

I refuse to believe (for the sake of my own sanity) that people are completely out of control and helpless.


A very reasonable view really. At the very least I think it is possible to say that we MUST view ourselves and others as acting freely and under our own/their own control.

Not read the Levi book Survival in Auschwitz, but I feel now that I ought to. Not sure I agree with you though in thinking that the betrayal of the Jewish collaborator's is the same as the petty betrayals we find now. Context is very important in ethics (or at least I think so) and whether betrayal is a small thing which will only cause small hurt, or whether it involves turning your back on your very humanity is surely significantly different.

I have to say I am still with the worst of humanity being found in petty tribalism. Nationality, religious group, race, ethnicity, class, status group whatever takes one group of people and says "us" and considers all others as "not us". Can't get worse than that I say (unfortunately whilst I can make sense of this point of view to myself I find I can never express myself well in my thinking, perhaps I am too radical when I say I dislike the very notion of community. All I can say is that I am still working this view out).

P.S. Is it really the case that I haven't posted something like this already... it is so weird that I can remember doing it. view post


Free Speech and Tact posted 16 February 2006 in Philosophy DiscussionFree Speech and Tact by Nasrudin's Shadow, Candidate

Quote: &quot;Peter&quot;:3l8sw6cr


Not sure I agree with you though in thinking that the betrayal of the Jewish collaborator's is the same as the petty betrayals we find now. Context is very important in ethics (or at least I think so) and whether betrayal is a small thing which will only cause small hurt, or whether it involves turning your back on your very humanity is surely significantly different.

[/quote:3l8sw6cr]

I did not say that they were the same. I suggested that they might share the same basic impulse. This connection then caused me to wonder at the powerful influence of self-preservation and what anyone might be capable of doing in such horrifying conditions. view post


Free Speech and Tact posted 16 February 2006 in Philosophy DiscussionFree Speech and Tact by Peter, Auditor

This connection then caused me to wonder at the powerful influence of self-preservation and what anyone might be capable of doing in such horrifying conditions.


Then again likely those who acted best, who represented the best that people can aspire to were probably the first to die (at least the first if they survived the initial triage). I remember reading something on an online magazine called the Ethical Spectical (something like that anyway) where someone said that being a saint in the death camps definitely did not help you survive, indeed it may well have been prejudicial to your survival. That said I still think that responsibility is diminished (not extinguished) given the circumstances people were put in there. view post


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