Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Stem cell research as an ethical issue

Ok guys, I know this is a bit random, but as I was taking a break from writing the Extended Essay, I came across a really interesting article about new developments in stem cell research, and thought it might be worth y'all's perusal. So the big question is, at least in my mind- could we have ethically justified the destruction of embryos, is this an acceptable solution, and what possible ramifications do you think this might have for the future? How do we know if something is morally right or not? Where does that line fall? Not just with stem cell research, but take this farther- how do we define morality, and can we even define it? Something to think about... (http://health.msn.com/healthnews/articlepage.aspx?cp-documentid=100143549&GT1=8404)

38 comments:

devin said...

Personally, I think that stem cell research is perfectly ethical and moral, because as of yet, the life within the embryo is not yet self-conscious, and cannot therefore be said to be a living human. I don't think there are any possible ramifications that could become of this, merely because we are still adhering to the current ethical code.
Now, to the more hazy question...I don't think there is a "line" to cross. How could there be, if we as humans base our moral code on a creation of our own, the social contract? In order for the contract to succeed (not fall apart), people have to adhere to a code that provides them and others security. Beyond this, however, even in the setting of the social contract, ethics can shift at any time. Once we acknowledge that the social contract is not necessary, we run into a whole other field.
"Ethics" is merely an idea, a set of "right" and "wrong" actions/thoughts that are based entirely off of vague emotional ties. "Ethics" does not exist - it is merely an unjustified belief that is shared by the vast majority of humanity. This "Ethics" idea is now causing the human race to overstep it's bounds and the restrictions that the natural world puts on organisms and grow (population-wise) exponentially. Since we have to consider the "ethical" implications of any action, there is no more petty warring which used to help control our population. "Ethics" also helps keep people who by all rights have been selected to die alive: doctors, "feed the poor" programs, etc. If an unjustified belief is helping unbalance the natural order of the planet, is it really a problem to violate it's strict code?
Now, I like being able to have sicknesses cured, don't get me wrong on that point - I am just stating the "truth" of the matter as I see it.

Adrienne said...

A couple questions (well, some are more comments, but still):
you refer to the social contract not being necessary- could you elaborate? I suppose it depends on what one wants out of life, but it seems to me that the social contract is one of the most elementary aspects of 'communal' (term used loosely) living. If we are inherantly social creatures, preferring (on average) social interaction to solitude, how can we do this without some form of social contract?
Also, emotion is a perfectly valid way of justifying the belief in ethics- we know from tok that emotion, along with logic, language and perception, is a way of knowing- therefore one can't just discount it's validity as justification for ethics.
Sure, one can look at it on a sliding scale, but just discounting a conscience because other organisms don't have one? Conscience is valid to justify beliefs, even beliefs of 'ethics'
And in terms of population control; ethics were still just as much an issue in times of petty warfare as now. People went to war to defend their version of the social contract, and protect what they considered theirs, or to expand their land, influence, etc. Trivializing this by saying it's merely a biological suicidal urge to lower the population of the earth is silly.

devin said...

Alright...harsh. And I deserved it. But hear me out. You talk about the social contract as if it's the only way humans can socially interact with each other, but that's not true. Social ladders are present in the societies of every species to exist, and a contract has never been necessary. The guaranteeing of security has never been necessary in a societal organization, and that is all a social contract is. Organisms interact with each other both peacefully and violently outside of the social contract.
And no, the emotional argument used to justify ethics doesn't hold up: not only is it an argument that is only commonly understood because of the social contract's limitations on interaction, it can even be said to be not understood by many, if anyone, today. The ethical system changes almost constantly depending on the national mood, if you will. There is no one line of moral/immoral, or ethical/unethical, so how can you believe in something that is fluctuating so frequently? If that is the case, then Conscience is also fluctuating just as frequently if it is being used as a justification of ethics, and if it fluctuates as such, can it truly be used to justify ethics, since they are, judging by their parallel movement, one and the same? You can't use "something that justifies something else" as the definition of justification, can you?
And in response to your last retort, I wasn't referring to the instinct of self-preservation, I was referring to the endless questions that apply to war now..."what'll happen to all the people who live there but are innocent?"..."what will our course of action be after the war to help the people we just fought against?"(ring a bell?....costing us far too much for far too little a payoff, as far as i'm concerned)...etc, etc. The various raiders/bandits that we know to have existed never took into account the state of the villagers they raped or if they deserved it or not, they just raped them and took their possessions. And competition, usually violent competition (pistol duels?), is, has been, and always will be, at it's very core, a biological urge to kill - it just happens to be us we used to kill. (we as a species are predators after all).

devin said...

I just want to add a disclaimer here: I don't want ethics abolished, or even broken necessarily (I'm really not a soulless nazi), I just see ethics as an inherently bad thing, maybe not for humans but for everything else.

Shayden said...

*Sigh*...social contracts...Thomas Hobbes is a-haunting. Anyhoo...It's interesting that we should destroy life to perserve life. In a sense, we trade one life for another so there is no ethical or fair way of going about it. Either way, someone loses and their potential, which the world might have benefited from, is snuffed out. Sacrifice is necessary for progression. There must be a balance between our perception of morality and practicality for creating a sustainable state. Personal morals are created by one's own needs weighed against the public's idea of what is appropriate and humane, determining what is right and wrong for an individual. Morals come down to whatever is the most advantageous solution, either for the individual or society at large.

devin said...

A lot of the time, though, shayden, morals are not based on the most advantageous solution for the individual or the society. That's what's so interesting to me: we make exceptions for some things, and yet hold strictly to our morals for others that would be just as advantageous for society. An example of this would be the progams in place to feed the hungry. These programs are not helping society in any way by keeping the people they target alive. Doing so creates even more people to feed who are equally as hungry in most cases. If it would be more advantageous to society to simply ignore their need since they cannot fulfill this need themselves, then why do we not make an exception to our morals to achieve this object?

ELanciotti said...

Personally I believe that stem cell research is unethical when it comes to the destruction of embryos. My Dad is a microbiologist at the CDC and he told me that it is possible to do the same research using other organs and parts of bodies, but its a lot more complicated then just using embryos. When it comes to the line of morals, I guess every person has a different line. Or like you said they adjust it so that a few things can be done. On the extreme side serial killers actually become to the point that they think it is morally right to kill someone, but then if one doesn't have an open mind is that not a good thing too?
I also personally define life in an embryo as starting the moment the sperm fertilizes the egg, so I guess it also comes down to one's personal definition of when life begins. And now we're arguing semantics...

Wonton said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Wonton said...

Hmm... Devin, you sure have an interesting and unique take to the SC (social contract). However, I would like to point out that allot of your statements are exactly why ppl feel that SC's are needed.

Point 1) "Social ladders are present in the societies of every species to exist, and a contract has never been necessary."
Counter Point 1) Your right, ladders do exist... but I would much rather be on the same plat form as you. If we don’t have that platform, then a certain group might take control over those "lower" on the ladder. (i.e. slavery, genocide, oppression) which makes for a less rokin' society than one ... say... without them.

Point 2) The guaranteeing of security has never been necessary in a societal organization, and that is all a social contract is.
Counter point 2) Hmmm... well... I LIKE security... and if I don't have it, I start getting paranoid and start shooting anyone walking into my lawn... which makes for not society, but a state of war... which as Hobbes says... makes life "brutal, violent, and short" or something like that...

Anyways, onto the actual issue at hand, I'm pretty glad that more advances are coming our way as far as this goes... yay progress.

Hmm... as for the embryo debate… here’s my two pence, it's obvious that an embryo is living but not aware... (but we kill mice too... so what’s the difference?)
Well, Mr. Parenthetical Winston, the difference lies in the potential of the two beings, one has the potential to become a fully functioning member of society while the other has the potential of looking cute and eating cheese (attributes that the first organism also shares). The first one, although not defined as a human being by some, is nevertheless capable of becoming a human being. Thusly, I think that killing embryos is a waste of HR …
--Winston
Devin, sorry for sounding debaterish, it's just easier to read that way.

Wolf Man Jack said...

So what if the embryo has the capability to become a human being, what if that one embryo you kill would have become the next Charles Manson, aren't you doing a service by preventing that?
Also an embryo is also capable of becoming a mouse.

Shayden said...

To Devin: I suppose what I meant when I said morals come down to the most advantageous solution, I meant that it is for the individual exercising the use of moral. Using your example, if the indiv. didn't feed the hungry person, he (or she) would feel guilt, so he'd do it. If he took your stance and figured he'd be creating more problems by feeding the hungry, then he wouldn't because that would be hindering society. In this case his morals tell him that it would do more harm than good to help the hungry person, so by not feeding him, he (and society) gains some kind of benefit. In the former he examined the problem on a personal level and felt it would be more advantageous to help the hungry man as a person. Maybe the helping indiv. gets some kind of personal gratification out of it or he has merely helped someone else. Whatever he decides, it is working to someone's advantage. I also forgot to mention in my definition of "moral" that one must unconditionally adhere to it, even if it is just subconciously. Morals are so ingrained as a part of who we are that it is impossible to completely ignore them when making decisions. If we set them aside or believe we make an exception to them, our sense of moral indirectly helps us decide if that's the right thing to do; because moral is so much a part of us and is therefore influential on our actions, maybe there really are no moral exceptions...

devin said...

Winston: I acknowledge your points, as they are the points of practically everyone living under a social contract (most people). However, I think you're missing my point. Yes, people are better off under a social contract. Yes, people are happier under a social contract (depending on which one). But the contract itself has never been NECESSARY for the survival of the human race. I'm saying that, setting aside our human emotions toward security and life in general, the removal of the contract would benefit the society at large - aka the earth. Security is why there's an overpopulation problem, which in turn leads to massive demand in virtually any market, which leads to the rapid and exponential depletion of the natural resources on this planet. In other words, we've started killing the environment in which we live because we've outsmarted it, but we don't NEED to keep it that way.

shayden: If morals are dependent on the individual, then what is the difference between morals and beliefs?

Shayden said...

Devin: You can agree or disagree with me, but I think they are so strongly intertwined together, one can't be ignored without the other so they will always function accordingly, regardless of their differences. However, belief can apply to anything (grass is green, God exists, etc.) while morals are limited to ethical concerns (is it right or wrong, in reference to treatment of things/people). Additionally, one can't have morals without first having beliefs as a basis for moral.

sage tansanjelo said...

Devin you make some very interesting points about ethics, social contract, and security, but I have a few questions. You say that the social contract is not necessary, which I would agree with you on some scale, however if we did not have a social contract that we as a human race did not all follow or agree with a little bit, then our instincts would replace it. Our soceity would turn into chaos simply because we would fall back into the hole of everyone for themselves. Old or current prejudices would be reborn, because it is far easier to loose a friend than gain one. It is my guess that the human population would decrease siginificantly over time. Now this may be good for our enviroment, but is it good for humanity? In a sense we are almost de-evolving, loosing instead of gaining. Morals, ethics, and this so called social contract, to me seem to be what keeps our " primal instincts" in check. I guess my point is that while I see you reasoning, whether ethics, morals, etc, may simply be beliefs, they are necessary to keep humanity moving forward, for we can reach so much higher together than alone. Is our purpose on this earth to move forward, or move backward?

devin said...

Sage: I would definitely agree with you that we have made far more advances technologically since, as a race, we are united under the SC. However, I would also make the case that these advances are stifling our evolution to a point of stagnancy. When the least fit members of society are given life and the chance to reproduce, when they wouldn't have been able to normally, we are keeping our race at the same evolutionary level as it has been for a long time. I would argue that in order to progress as a race beyond mere technological advances, that the SC would have to be eliminated.
It would most likely be restored at some point due to humanity's neverending resourcefulness, but at that point, I would bet that "humanity" as we define it will have changed for the better.

Big E said...

Devin, I am going to guess you read Ishmael. Or maybe you just recieved all these beliefs in a flash of perception, it makes little difference to me. But let me just screw this whole debate up by arguing with something Devin said in his first post.
SC Does not cause overpopulation, agriculture does. Rats don't have social contracts, but if you give them food, they will grow. We could have all the wars we want, people are still more than happy to make babies. I would argue that there is a difference between morals and social contract, I believe that pre-agriculture humans had consciences as they still had tribal connections. Anyway, reading Ishmael, I am on track wiht everything Devin is saying. Sage said "Is our purpose on this earth to move forward, or move backward?". Well, it's neither. Our purpose is to exist, just like everything else on Earth. The technological advances of that you speak have little evidence of causing happiness or better living standards. I find it perfectly believable that we would all more happy that we are now under a hunter gatherer society. We are also perfectly able to survive on our own in a hunter-gatherer society, so it cannot be said to be bad for human society, as it would still exist in a healthy state. I'll have to think about the original questions I bit more, so i'll get back to them.
-Evan

sage tansanjelo said...

Ok
Devin- 1st, Are you saying that our evolution right now is technological? I think it has far more to do with the mind. I was not reffereing to physical evolution, but mental. Example: 50 years ago i'm guessing kids our age were not arguing over social contracts.We are gaining more perspective and "knowledge" (due to the current debatable definition, not sure if its the right word) on life, and all the subjects surrounding it, as time goes on. 2nd, On your example of the least fit members of soceity. I would make the point that you should not look at the gain, or lack there of from the least fit member of our soceity, but from the losses if we were to dump that SC and simply get rid of them. It seems to me that would be detrimental to our soceity. As I said last time we would fall into our instincts of survival, one for himself, greed, etc. If this didn't happen then what if we in essence create a "utopia", somewhat like The Giver, or Anthem. In doing so not only would we once again have another SC, but we would loose our freedom as well. So I agree that it would likely be restored, however I disagree that we wouldn't or can't gain from it,nor do i think that it is stifling our evolution. Now it may be possible that we could gain more by going through such an ordeal, and then coming around and learning form our "mistakes," and from that maybe we would have changed for the better. Huh, let me compliment myself on my amazing ability to confuse myself. Let me babble real quick. Now I am somewhat agreeing with you on you last point, that if we lose our SC, for a while anyway, and then come back maybe we would have changed for the better. Don't we as learn far more from losing sometimes than winning? maybe. So maybe in the evolution of the human mind, emotions, perceptions, etc., it would be better for us to dump the SC for a little while, but in the technological sense your speaking of, it probably wouldn't. This shall need some more pondereing.

Evan- You say that technological advances don't cause happiness? Eso no es verdad, Would i rather walk or drive to school? (I live almost 40 miles away) Thus I am guessing if I walked I might not be so peachy that day. If humans did not know anything other than a hunter gatherer soceity, then we perfectly fine with it, because we didn't know of anything else. But if you stuck us in there now, there would be some hard feeling, to say the least, and it would not be a healthy state. Yes our purpose on earth may only be to exist, but we as humans will always strive for more, just because it is our nature. Yes we could just exist, but we won't, we are far to greedy and arrogant to just sit there and watch the world pass us by. Your seem to be saying that in order to move forward we have to be happy. I cannot see how a hunter gatherer soceity would do that. Just some thoughts.

Robert said...

Sage, to point out on our current SC with the United States government, it is currently allowed, and was practiced by the Supreme Court, to sterilize criminals if the court feels it is necessary. Is this not similar to Devin's argument of removing those 'unfit' for are current life style? This would be an example of man attempting to control our own evolution, by instead of selectively breeding, by removing those we do not think contribute to our society.

Big E said...

I suppose I should clarify what I meant by saying that technological advances don't make us happy. I was pointing out that research suggest that the same percentage of peopel throughout the ages have felt atisfied. Even with our modern marvels, people aren't happier on average.
-Evan

Big E said...

Also, I am not saying that for humans to advance we need ot be happy, I am saying that "advancing" is irrelevant and we owuldn;t have to worry baout it if we were in our hunter gatehrer society. I also don't see what reason there is to believe we will always strive for more, just because thats teh way we are.
-Evan

sage tansanjelo said...

robert- first can you define what sterilizing criminals means? To your second point I think that it is very different, the definition of thouse unfit for our life style is far far more broader than certain criminal. To me devin seemed to be suggesting those who cannot make a contribution, or have a future in the human race, this may include those in poverty and etc. By "sterilizing" criminals, I don't believe that we trying to control our evolution. These criminals have already made there contribution to the world, whether good or not, they have done something to effect someone elses life have they not? In devins view I was looking at it more as not even giving those deemed unfit a chance to make that contribution. To me locking up criminals is not an act of attempting to control our evolution, but an act to protect that very social contract that we hold so tightly.

Evan- It is true that people may not be happier on average with these modern marvals, because this is the age that they grew up in, same with those who grew up with horse and carrage, they would know nothing different. If you flip flopped them you may have a very different. it is true that you don't really know what you have until its gone. As for humanity always striving for better, do you have aspirations for you later life? Is that not striving for better? Humans curiousity is a major part I believe in us trying to better ourselves. That's why scientist research theories and phenominons. Thats why we go to space, and why we go to school. Also, we as a race are very competitive, we always want to be better than the other. Is that not growing? I believe that the impulse for humans to better ourselves fall on both the way we are nutured in the soceity today with competition, and a need to show that we are an individual, and not like everyone else. I also think that it has to do with the basic biological point that we grow, and in growing we are bettering ourselves, our brains are growing, our comprehension is growing, everything is. To me this all falls to the fact that humans are a curious species

devin said...

Sage: On your first comment from the 3rd - I believe there is a distinct difference between gaining knowledge and evolving as a species. In fact, I believe that by gaining more and more knowledge of how to manipulate our environment, we are removing the effects of natural selection (I might have already said this, I don't know, it is a major part of my SC argument too) and therefore stifling our evolution. I don't think we can evolve "mentally" as you suggest, going strictly by Darwin's principles.
And to your second point - I think you were getting the point of what I've been trying to say near the end, letting go of the SC, and most likely our lives, in order that the human race can come under natural law once again and continue the evolutionary process, at least for a time. I don't think this would harm us technologically in the long run either - once another SC is established, we would go through approximately the same pattern of technological development once again, but this time as a higher species.

Evan: As to your comment "SC doesn't cause overpopulation, agriculture does" - Yes, I agree with you that agriculture does cause a boom in population, but not nearly the drastic exponential growth we are seeing with our societies today. By making each individual nation dependant upon each other for capital, we made the affairs of each nation matter to every other nation. What else does this do but force everyone to care for everyone else, even if it's falsely politically motivated, and therefore lead to a society in which even the lowliest peasant will reproduce, producing more lowly peasants when our agricultural system couldn't even feed the first generation of lowly peasants. What I'm trying to say is that the growth caused by agriculture was and is acceptable, but the unstoppable juggernaut that is our "world social contract" if you will, is absolutely not. Look at the issue from any viewpoint besides an emotional or ethical (often the same anyway) viewpoint, and you should see what I mean. I hope.

And...on the current issue at hand - I believe that our greedy and competitive tendencies are brought about by the capitalist society we all live under today, which requires such behavior to be successful, but I also believe that as human beings we strive forward. The innate curiosity that Sage mentioned I completely agree with. I can't see how we could have gotten this far today if we weren't striving for more at the beginning of things.

sage tansanjelo said...

Devin- I wasn't so much saying that by evolving we gain knowledge, but as we go along the more we will be able to use our brains to our full capacities, in an not only an evolutional sense, but a knowledge sense as well. When I say knowledge sense I am not saying that we evolve an gain knowledge, but when the human race keeps going on and producing, we have more experiences to base our beliefs and knowledge on. In other words we have more history to study and draw conclusions from, and move forward in truths and knowledge that we have know. Science experiement could be going on for centuries, and we could know far more than now.
On the SC, I am starting to skeptically agree with you that letting go of the SC may be better for us as humans, in an evolutionary sense than if we didn't. However just to point this out, the likelyness that this will happen under our own will power is almost impossible, unless we have a huge natural disater or a nuclear WWIII. If such a thing were to happen, and we were to return to out natural state, how would we evolve for the better. If you say that we don't evolve mentally, then does that just mean physically? If so is that worth basically loosing all we have gain in order to be come stronger? I believe we do evolve mentally, and if this is the case then it could be worth it. The question I have for myself then is how can we evolve mentally if we were to return to a state of chaos, where we do not have school's, or studies, or anything to push our minds in order to evolve. Loosing this SC would mean that we lost everything, no school, no ways to learn, no anything. It would simply be us returning to our survival state based on instincts. Our mond would consist of simple thought such as where do we find food? Where do I find water? How do I protect myself? How would getting rid of this SC help us in evolution?

devin said...

Sage: I was thinking more along the lines of the loosely defined "physical evolution". This isn't purely physical, however...when a species evolves, the members of the society that are most capable (both mentally and physically - time has proven that a clever opponent can beat a brute) will survive, spawning more from that mold. This enhances the basis from which knowledge is gained, and therefore increases our capacity, at a later date, to gather more knowledge and "evolve mentally". I do acknowledge your point that our mental abilities as a race will greatly diminish for a time, but I believe that through that destruction we can mentally grow even further later.
I also know that the probability of any change coming in respect to the SC is incredibly low. The opinions I present are merely that - opinions.

And as to your last question - How would getting rid of the SC aid our evolution?: It would put the human race once again under natural law (aka natural selection would once again apply to us). The only reason we haven't been evolving is because we have banded together under the SC and outsmarted nature, avoiding every possible culling bite it throws at us. So the only solution now, excluding eugenics, is to get rid of the SC.

Robert said...

Sage, the sterilization was a movement agreed with by the Supreme Justice of the United States that said the states had the right to prevent people from reproducing in any natural manner. That is a specific example of one way that we are allowing a 'moral' growth in society.

I have to agree with Devin in some ways. The current development of the 'mental' society has created a stratified society. There are some people who are doing better at say school then others, but it is becoming harder to achieve greatness in the fields. Modern science in many ways cannot be understood by most people today. It is a highly specialized area that requires more training now then it did 100 years ago. I have just finished reading a book called "Voodoo Science" the purpose of the book is to discuss how a large percentage of the population is ignorant of scientific principles, allowing pseudoscience to seem real. If this is really for the 'good' of the community, then I would say that it is time for people to recognize that they are ignorant instead of trying to seem like they know what they are talking about.

sage tansanjelo said...

Let me play devils advocate for a little bit here since I'm not quite clear on my views of this subject.
Devin- So if we were to return to our natural state and start over, would it not be essentially the same to our natural state 100 million(date?) years ago,back to the point of early humans. Sure we may come up being completely different than our soceity is today, but with us returning to our natural state, we would essentially forget our past. How would we evolve better than before? Our mental growth wouldn't change in my view unless we get farther than we would with an SC, compared to when we "lost" it earlier, which then would return us to the question is it beneficial to humanity to lose it. Just to make a comparison could it be like a world where humans may only grow to be 16 and then die, but slowly over time they grow older, and thus learn more, and evolve mentally. Again just some ideas
Robert- My question to you would be what is bad about stratified mental soceity? (try not to view this question from a purely ethical stand point) If we were all on the same level in thinking, then wouldn't we essentially be slaves to ourselves? We would lose our individuality, sense of accomplishment, and need to better ourselves. If we were all on the same page it seems to me that our world would turn into a utopia kind of like in "Anthem" While helping others and suggesting that a human can achieve anything to pull themselves out of a hole, and just a general sense of caring what happens to other is supported today by our current social contract, and ethical viewpoints, if they were enforced to a point where we essentially achieved our goal in helping the world and in doing so bringing every person up to "par," could we possibly be hurting it more than helping by the simple fact that we lose what to me define us as humans, our individuality in reaching for something better, always.

Robert said...

"Anthem" took an extreme view. I do not believe that everyone should be equally competent in everything, because that is just not possible in anything. I believe that people have to recognize that there is always someone else that knows more about a subject. From what I have seen in many of the science, people in general are corrupting the implications of the science to support their world view. A common theme that has been noticed is that those who are untrained in science tend to believe that they have found a simple solution to a complex problem such as invalidating the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Many scientists tend to ignore any such claims as they see that it is currently theoretically impossible to breach that law. I believe that what we need to do is to educate the populous, as when people know the basics of science; it does not seem as much of a miracle. An example of this can be found in the 'research' book "Angles and Demons" by Dan Brown. He claims that it is possible to have a near infinite source of energy with anti-matter matter annihilations. This cannot happen because it invalidates the Second Law of Thermodynamics, and E=mc^2. The Second Law ensures that it is impossible to have a process that is 100% efficient, and E=mc^2 ensures that half of the energy turned into 'matter' is anti-matter. This is a balance that is created, yet many people see this as a way of generating large amounts of energy at low cost. It is not bad to have a stratified mental society as long as everyone recognizes that they know very little about most things. It is when people start to think that they actually know what is happening that it becomes a problem. It is equally problematic to have a uniform society. Our society also is extraordinarily good at helping those who we think are useful in surviving, probably more so then those who are not extremely intelligent. An example of this is Stephan Hawking; a relatively large amount of wealth has been invested in him as on a whole society believes that he is useful.

sage tansanjelo said...

But robert by guessing, or thinking and being wrong in a certain subject such as the 2nd law of thermodynamics, we grow. I believe here that you are putting too much on science. Science changes on a daily bases, science is a group of theories based on beliefs and evidence. THose can change anytime if we discover something new. What if there is a way to breach the 2nd law of thermodynamics? We just haven't discovered it yet. I believe that a majority of the population recognizes that they know very little compared to others in subject areas such as science. I am not sure how in giving all of our soceity a bases of knowledge, we would be helping them. It is true there are some who believe they know more than anyone else, but usually just in one subject. Example: A person who strongly believes in god, may believe they know more than any scientist, simply because in there minds, science is not a key player in determining what the purpose of life is. Humans are naturally arrogant, and we do nothing that isn't a benifit to ourselve as well, that is just our tempermant. If I took your view then I would say that a stratified soceity is bad unless every individual in that soceity has a chance to succeed.

Robert said...

Science is not supposed to tell you the purpose of life. Science should only be used to describe the physical realm. Science should not comment on where there is, or is not a god. That is for a person to decide. Society has to be stratified, it is impossible for everyone to be equal. Part of our society tries to make it seem like everyone can succeed. I personally no matter how hard I try could ever create visual art, but I have a talent with the musical arts and math and the sciences. I have seen music 'assessments' where it is treated that as long as you try your hardest everyone is equal. This philosophy of just try your hardest and you can be as good as everyone else is flawed. Everyone has something that they are talented at, I think that we should encourage people to find what they are good at but still know a little bit about everything. An example of this is IB; IB has a requirement in all of the subject areas. Many people not in IB only advance in one subject, letting the rest fall at what I think is an inadequate level of knowledge that is required by the state.

If as you say humans do nothing that does not benefit themselves, that is against the social contract where it is that humans we help others as long as it does not injure them.

The second law of thermodynamics is a well tested law that is based on the primary tenants of physics. That everything can be modeled as information. It is based on the idea that when the exact state of a system is not known, over time the interactions will cause more information to become unknowable because disorder tends to increase in a closed system. One way to violate this is to know the exact state of the system, and is currently prohibited by the Uncertainty Principle. To invalidate this would be to have to rebuild all of physics, chemistry, biology, and any other science.

I think that it is time to change the Social Contract, because as you have mentioned as a society we are very different then we were when it was written.

sage tansanjelo said...

I agree with you on the science part, and that everyone should know something of all subjects to an extent, and yes, our soceity does have to be stratified. But the question is to what extent? Also, yes it is against the SC if we do everything for ourselves, but since when de we follow the social contract completely? If we did we would be a non-stratified, slaves to ourselves, soceity. If you were to help the poor for no specific reason, and recieve no reward, would that be a selfless action? No because the reason you did it was to make yourself feel good, and even if it wasn't the reason, you still felt that way. I have a question for you now, you say we need to change the social contract, how would you suggest we do that, and what would be your reaction to getting rid of it? (for more details read the above convo with me and devin.

Vvyynn said...

To.

Big E said...

First of all, Robert, why do you say science has no jurisdiction in determining whether there is a god or not? Also, the social contract was never "written". It is fluid and dynamic and changes with the society, it is not like we just tack ammendments on to it. We don't even know exactly what the social contract is. It is this vague notion we have that describes the rules of play between human beings in general. Philosophers have debated what it is and what it should be for centuries.
-Evan

Vvyynn said...

Yeah! Centuries! Centaurs? Centurian? Manchurian Candidate? Was that movie any good?

devin said...

Evan: "it is not like we just tack amendments onto it."
Ummmm.....really? Cause I could've sworn that the "constitution", the contract the US is based on, had, well, quite a few of those "tacked on". And as to the social contract not being written, how else could it possibly exist? It may change with time, but that's only because of those "amendments" that are added. The core of any social contract is only changed when a revolution occurs and a new core social contract is written down and put into effect. I don't believe that such a concrete idea as a set of rules to live by can be nebulous in any way.

devin said...

And to add a little more to the SC discussion: I don't think we, at this point in our societal development, can change the SC consciously, no matter how much the change is needed. The capitalist governments around the world have become too dense and beurocratic to allow any major change to happen, let alone one that gets them no money, so I believe that the next inevitable step for human evolution is a nuclear war - WWIII. And from the way the world is shifting today, I believe that it's not that far off.

Big E said...

What we have here is a misconception of teh Social Contract. The Social Contract is not simply the constitution of any given society. If it were that easy then the idea wouldn't have been so revolutionary. The social contract is the belief that the goverment and the people had an unwritten agreement in order to work with each other. No where in the constitution does it say "The governemnt will protect the people in return the the people will give the government money". That's implied. Loche and Hobbes had different idea of what ths ocial contract is and what it should be. America social contract can change, depending on the views of the public and the government, but it doesn't always involve the constitution, and it also isn't remotley controlable.
-Evan

devin said...

I don't think I've misinterpreted it in any way, actually. And my problems with it stem directly from what you defined it as (basically): that because of this corrupt, beurocratic, broken governmental system that is in place currently due to the agreement that is the social contract and that cannot be removed due to the agreement that is the social contract, everything on the planet is being sacrificed to make our little capitalist piggie lives that much more capitalist and piggie-like, and the majority of the population of the world today doesn't give a s*%& what their government does or does not do as long as they have their tv dinners. This inbred complacency over the last half-century has created a system in which the fate of the world is entirely in the hands of a few - not very democratic; OR capitalistic. Besides the fact that capitalism doesn't and can't work as it's supposed to, this state of the world needs to be changed. That is why I call for removal (however temporary it may end up being) of the social contract itself: by removing the agreement between the people and their controlling governments, anarchy will be able to topple this political house of cards and from the wreckage we'll be given another chance at a good system. There is nothing inherently wrong with the social contract - it's just a stepping stone to a more effecient way of living - but the way our governments abuse it creates this need for it's temporary removal.

Evan - I know you love capitalism, but try to look at it from my angle: by creating a Horribly(underlined) complex economic system based off a subjective, recurring, geological "thing", the government forces its people to work for it to make money and spend their money in order to live, which in turn allows the government to take their money back, which forces them to work more to make more money, etc., etc. It breeds an efficient labor pool, but at the cost of freedom. Capitalist nation = Fancy Sweat Shop.

devin said...

Well, okay....so I did misinterpret it before - but not in my latest response.