Tuesday, January 30, 2007

A story with a moral

There were once two islands separated by a body of water. There was a ferry boat that traveled between the two islands once a week. On one island lived "A", on the other island lived "B". One week "A" and "B" met on the ferry boat and instantly fell in love. Neither of them had any other means of transportation, so they met eachother eery week on the ferry boat.
Until one day "B" said, "this long distance relationship is just too hard. I can't handle it, it's over." Well, "A" was devasted, got off the boad, sat on the dock and cried.
Along came "C" who asked what was wrong. "A" retold the story and "C" said ,"No problem! I have a canoe; I'll take you across to the other island. But there is one condition. You have to spend the evening with me." "A" thought about it and agreed.
The next day "A" and "C" set off for the other island. But news travels faster than "C's" canoe, and "B" had heard about "A's" decision before they arricev. "B" was waiting on teh shoe when the canoe docked. "B" said, "'A', you have been unfaithful. Leave!" Again "A" was devasted, sat on the shore, and cried.
Along came "D" who asked what was wrong. "A" retold the entire story, "D" became very angry, stormed off, and beat up "B".

Rank the four characters fromt the best to the worst where 1 is the best and 4 is the worst
We're mostly talking Moral/Ethical grounds here - How did you make your choice?

Thursday, January 25, 2007

"We'll Pay You Not to Have Kids"

The following is a brief summary of an article found in the CNN archives (June 28, 1999), concerning ethics. It says: A California-based private group called Children Requiring A Caring Community has reportedly been succeeding in its goal of preventing drug-addicted women from having unwanted children. The program offers cash payments of $200 to men or women who undergo long-term birth control (like Norplant, or an IUD) or permanent sterilization (such as tubal ligation or vasectomy). And now the organization has begun exporting its program to other states. This approach pits the goals of protecting children from harm against reproductive liberty, and we need to ask how far we should go in favor of each.

In my opinion if a woman does not want a child, she does not have to procreate. And if a woman wants contraception she may be able to recieve free pills from clinics such as Planned Parenthood, etc. The problem in my opinion, is that recovering addicts are already concerned about recieving money and using it for drugs...paying a recovering addict money is not a good idea, and it is not necessary. The article has its opinions but what are yours? Is this practice ethical?

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Murder and Morals: the Mystery

This is essentially a post to create discussion about the topic in my previous post (the long one), since I doubt many people are going to read it. You can try to prove the following statement untrue, and I'll respond to defend it as true. It should be interesting...

Killing other humans is not wrong, morally or ethically - it just happens to be a mostly convenient guideline.

(Oh, and please don't take this to mean that I would go out and kill people for fun. I wouldn't. Really. It's just to generate discussion on an idea I find intriguing)

Monday, January 22, 2007

Forgot one

I forgot a very important issue that has yet to be brought up as well.

Is the War in Iraq ethical?

See previous post for my whole long spiel about the sanctity of BLOG. Please respect all guidelines and opinions here as well, as people may not share your own.

I say nay. The War in Iraq is not ethical. This is because the true reasons that we are there have been hidden under red tape, and have, even currently, been hidden from the public. The government's job is for the people, and when the people are not being told what the government is doing then there is a breach of etiquette. This breach or etiquette is what makes this unethical. I agree with what I see as the reasons for us going to Iraq are, but that is irrelevant. I oppose it all the same because it isn't ethical for the Govt to hide facts from the public, any more than it is ethical to impersonate a lawyer to capture a psychopath. What we need to understand is that there is a difference between morals and ethics. Morally both are acceptable (to me at least), but ethically they break the code of honor (the Constitution and Laws) that this country is based on, and indeed the citizens gain power from. Therefore: The War in Iraq is not ethical.

The Big Guns

We have started to discuss ethics, in case you didn't notice for whatever reason, and so I decided to bring out the two biggest ethics arguments i could think of!
Abortion -- this is the (controversial) removal of fetuses. This often (at least 90% of the time) results in the death of the fetus. My question is: Is abortion ethical.

The Death Penalty -- This is the (controversial) removal of criminals. This often (at least 90% of the time) results in the death of the criminal. My question is: Is the death penalty ethical.

Just as a reminder I feel that I should remind everyone that this will get people very, very tense and angry, so please be careful with words. No ad hominim. This is supposed to be a discussion board, not a flame board, and please respect that. I am saying this again because I am very selfish and don't want to get hurt because I brought this up.
Thank you.


What is "wisdom" as far as TOK is concerned. We know have the ability to determine what knowledge, and how we reach the conclusion that we actually have some so called "knowledge." But does wisdom come into play ever? No.
So my questions are:
1.) What is Wisdom, a definiton.
2.) How do you get any wisdom? 7-11? Walmart (unlikely)?
3.) What is the cost of wisdom? (there may not be any)
4.) Do you have wisdom?
5.) Can wisdom every be something that you have a PJTB about? (Can you be sure you have wisidom)

So, for once I will actually answer my own questions, in an organized manner even.
1.) Wisdom is the ability to use knowledge. Very broad, but as far as anyone ever seems to be concerned, this seems to be the one real requirement to have wisdom, to have knowledge and understand how to act on it. Wisdom includes, by my definition: Knowing when to ask someone out, going into battle (physically, or even in a game), and even knowing what to order for lunch.

2.) Wisdom is no more aquired from age than knowledge from class. As Abigail Van Buren put it, "Wisdom doesn't automatically come with old age. Nothing does - except wrinkles. It's true, some wines improve with age. But only if the grapes were good in the first place." (Thank you quotationspage.com) Wisdom comes from experience, which is dependant on how willing you are to experience. A man who is 80 and lives in a cave is far less wise than a 20 year old who has traveled the world. As van Buren put it, if the grapes are good, it will be a good vintage. You need an inherant want for wisdom in order to be able to aquire it, and a hermit doesn't have that.
PS I apologize to all of the hermits I am putting out of business with this blog post, but they shouldn't be able to read it if they are really hermits.

3.) The cost of wisdom is that of living, perhaps a bit higher. In order to gain wisdom you have to put yourself in a certain amount of controlled danger, so there is always the possibilty that you may suffer higher because you fail to forsee some accident that happens, no matter how small the probability. However, in all likelyhood, there is no more cost of wisdom then that of life. And despite the raise in the cost of living we can all see how popular it remains. (That was a joke btw)

4.) I have some wisdom, but there is always someone who has experienced more, and so I am definately not the wisest, but merely one of those common wise people; like peers, and parents all are.

5.) You never can truly know that you, yourself, have wisdom. Other people may recognize it in you, and you may understand that you have some shred of wisdom, but it can never be actually properly justified to yourself. "If I really had been wise, then I wouldn't have..." But that is just semantics really. However, to other people it can be properly justified, "He's so wise, he did..." The wisest (and perhaps most foolish) would say "Of course I am wise, I always did the right thing."

If you find any falacies in my arguement, notify me, and I will try to rectify them, also please poke at my ideas, and create your own. Yours is as good as mine.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Mysteries of Choco Canyon

While watching the movie, and seeing the logical steps the archeologists took to make their conclusions, a thought came to me. Why is it that we assume that the most logical answer is the correct one? Simply because it makes sense to our minds does not guarantee that it is truly what happened. Yet, so often with theories it seems we try to justify the current theory when new information pops up by either adding to it or creating exceptions to the rule. We seem to refuse to question accepted ideas until it becomes conclusive that the accepted ideas cannot coexist with the new findings. Any thoughts on this, or examples of this in other aspects of society?

Monday, January 15, 2007


This is an interesting website where you can have a conversation with a computer.
What do you think?

The Duck Theory of Logic

What do you guys think of this idea of logic?
For those of you who are inable to read Wikipedia here is the basic duck test: If a bird looks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, then you can infer that it is indeed a duck, even if it is not wearing a label that explicitly states its identity.

1. What if it isn't a duck?
2. How does this fit in with TOK?
3. Did Kyle steal the car?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

On a lighter but much stranger note....

And here's a shorter post for those who don't really want to read the previous one. I'm pretty sure this man is insane, but it's interesting looking at the language he uses and how he tries to debunk the use of "word" and "singularity" by using pretty obscure and hard to follow terminology. It's interesting, but also more than a little frightening. I'm not sure how to connect this to TOK besides through his language usage, but discuss away.
Here's the site: www.timecube.com


This could be an incredibly controversial post, and if you're incredibly touchy about things such as ethics and morals then please don't take offense. And it's a long one, and if you don't want to read it all (it is interesting, though) please don't post a response. It's a big and messy topic.

"Ethics" don't exist.

Wait....what? The ideas and values that we base our lives around are pointless, meaningless, and paradoxical? Yup.

I'll begin with the simplest argument against this: It is wrong to kill another person. It is a basic fundamental belief in every major religion. It is hammered into our minds from the time we are born. Killing people is bad.
But then comes that little loophole that exists within every possible moral: ...except when...
Examples: war, self-defense, religious right, defending your "property", police action, etc., etc.
But wait...just because it's not wrong for some people doesn't make it any less wrong for me. Killing people is still wrong.
But it's also right. This is the contradiction - this is why, really, none of our beliefs mean anything. Something that is wrong can't also be right and vice-versa. Killing terrorists is a good thing for us to be doing right now - it is the right thing to do. But look at it from the point-of-view of the people who agree with the terrorists and you see family members and innocent people who believe in a cause that is not accepted being slaughtered by a nation with more power and wealth then their insurgency could ever dream of having.
People will say that this relativistic nature of each and every moral "law" doesn't mean that the morals are pointless. Just because someone thinks what we're doing is wrong doesn't make it wrong. But yes, yes it does. Just think about it: that notion itself, "killing people is wrong", is a universal notion. We automatically apply it to the rest of the world, every other human being, and make judgment calls based on that application. But when that notion fails, when that ideal doesn't serve our purposes, we toss it aside. It stops affecting us, we stop adhering to it. It loses its meaning.
For example, if someone with a gun pointed at your head backs you into a corner, and your hand finds a pistol on the counter or ground behind you, what would you do? Fight or flight. The cornerstone of our psyche. If there is no other option, then our morals disintegrate in front of the prolonging of our little lives. I know that if I were in this position I would take my chances and shoot the "someone" first. If I ran, I would die, so I choose to forsake my morals for an instant and kill this person standing in front of me. Doing so is neither right nor wrong to me at the time, because "(s)he started it", but (s)he is now just as dead as I would've been. One life gone, one still living. The fact that it was in self-defense doesn't fully apply. The moral "law" that had been followed throughout my entire life is now shown to be devoid of right or wrong sides, and as such, doesn't exist. That moral loses the pretense of meaning when faced with the truth of the action.

Now, the security provided us by our nice little things called "societies" or "governments" and by the "social contract" wouldn't be very effective if people were to go around killing each other, would it? Not really, no. In fact, anarchy would become the most popular government if people started acting out the ideas explored in the above section, and that wouldn't exactly be good for politicians. Or economists, or used car salesmen, or the IRS. If people didn't live by a code of some sort that delineates between "right" and "wrong", then the world would devolve into chaos. Yup. It would mean a resurrection of the notion of "survival of the fittest" that we as a species have slipped away from just like we have become immune to practically everything else this lovely but frustrated planet of ours has thrown at us. The people who can survive have the right to survive and will survive, until they let down their guard and someone removes them. They lost their right and gave it to someone else. It would be brutal, messy, and not much fun. But, I think we have to acknowledge the fact that our existence as it is now is based entirely off of lies: lies the government tells us, lies we tell ourselves, and lies we tell other people. If even a little of the truth were to seep in, the truth of life would be revealed through anarchy. Anyway, that's a tangent you can talk about if you want. Back to my earlier statement.

So, killing people as a moral doesn't really mean anything since it is relativistic. But what about the others? Is every moral negated because they're relative? Yup. Exactly. I'm going to stress this again: the argument "this moral is right for me and therefore, to me, it is right, signifying its existence." doesn't hold up. The whole point of having a moral is it's universal nature - the fact that it applies to everyone else in the world in your mind, not just you. If someone else believes your ideal to be wrong, then they throw a wrench into the whole thing. A moral cannot be right AND wrong and still be a moral, still be a guiding force in our lives. If it is both, then it is not universal, and therefore not a moral. Look at another example - stealing. If I walked up behind someone and stole their wallet, that wouldn't be wrong - I took advantage of said person's lack of attention in that particular moment for my own gain. Survival of the fittest. But it wouldn't be right, either: because I stole their wallet, I would have deprived them of money, identification, and practically everything that holds a life in this civilization together. The society we live in frowns upon that sort of thing. People living within a certain socity have to be productive to further that society's goals or aims. These two opinions clash and that is where the "meaning" of the moral disintegrates.
However, before I continue on that topic, another question has to be answered if it isn't clear enough already: "Why do we have morals, if they are negated because of their relativity?". The answer is rather simple - because the society we live in demands that we have them. As discussed earlier, societies would break down without a moral code, and no one would be happy about that who happened to have power in the society. So, they created a set of guidelines so that the workers wouldn't go about killing each other over silverware sets: our modern "Ethics". These are not a part of our psyche, as some would have you believe - if you can kill someone and you have the right to kill someone and you would stand to personally gain from killing this someone, you would. We are not inherently afraid of transgressing our morals, we just don't because we believe we shouldn't. Nothing directly relating to the action the moral deals with. The "moral" means nothing to us except that someone somewhere says it's bad. There is no more essence to a moral than that. And does "someone somewhere says it's bad" sound like a good enough reason to not do something? Not really. So then why do we continue to pretend, and go about our daily lives living with these restrictions (that's all they really are)? Because if we didn't, there would be chaos. And although chaos is interesting and alluring, it usually doesn't foster a long life. Look at teens today, for an example.

I am not saying that morals are bad. I am merely saying that they are lies. They are lies that make our lives a little bit more plush and extravagant, but they are lies nonetheless. I am also not saying that we should dismiss them all together. I'm saying that we should acknowledge that our existence as we know revolves around lying to ourselves constantly.

Whew....I think I'm done, but I probably didn't say everything. Anyway, thanks for reading the whole thing, but I do have one little request: don't post a simplistic, short, and false response to my statement here such as "Since this is right for me, it is right, and that signifies that moral's existence.". I think I already covered that. More than once. It's complicated material, so don't take it lightly.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

How do we measure pain or suffering?

How do we measure pain or suffering?

This is not a question of emotion like "happiness" or "sadness" but rather how one weighs the impact of positive and negative experiences.
For example, (you don't have to use this particular one) lets say that a malnourished refugee has been isolated from his 3rd-World society and is on his own. How would he measure future experiences in terms of suffering and pleasure? Do you believe it to be mostly determined by:

1) A personal and relative experience: any event that occurs to an individual is measured in comparison to their most positive and negative frames of reference. In other words, a spectrum of their best and worst previous experiences determines how they scale or judge future ones. With the given example of the refugee, he would judge another day of starvation to be commonplace and would not feel any negative reactions because of prior personal experience.

2) Societally relative: The "feeling" of an experience is judged by how it compares to what society deems as the consensual standard. As with the example above, if a refugee starves one more day, he will not see it as negative if his society did not. His standards for well being are mostly dependent on prior societal norms, even when isolated.

3) Create your own.

In reality and most "normal" situations, both 1 and 2 would applicable to some degree. One might in fact influence the other.

-Are times where one can take precedence over the other?
-If suffering is relative, personally and/or societally, can you compare levels of feeling between different people? For example, is a middle class depressed teenager's level of suffering comparable to someone who has experienced starvation and physical pain?