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Critique My Philosophy of Life? (Repost)
Posted: 29 November 2013 10:45 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Moderator please note:  I am reposting because my initial thread was hijacked by a third-party debate on free will.  Thank you for your understanding.

Over the past few years, I have formulated my philosophy of life, a 13-page document that may be found at the following link:

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0Byh6JnTg3RMecHhxV0pYeklqV0U/edit?usp=sharing

In the first half of the document, I present and defend the following positions:  atheism, afterlife skepticism, free will impossibilism, moral skepticism, existential skepticism and negative hedonism.  The second half of the document is devoted to ways to achieve and maintain peace of mind.

I have found the entire exercise to be very beneficial personally, and I hope that you will benefit from reading the document.

I am posting my philosophy to solicit feedback so that it may be improved.  I welcome any constructive criticism that you may have.

Enjoy!

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Posted: 30 November 2013 08:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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LOL  Ha Ha! 
A conversation about Meatball Calzones could easily transmogrify into a discussion about Free-will around here.
That’s not necessarily a good or bad thing.

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Row row row your boat gently down the stream.  Merrily Merrily merrily merrily life is but a dream!

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Posted: 30 November 2013 02:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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VYAZMA - 30 November 2013 08:14 AM

LOL  Ha Ha! 
A conversation about Meatball Calzones could easily transmogrify into a discussion about Free-will around here.
That’s not necessarily a good or bad thing.

All roads lead to a discussion about free will.

Lois

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Posted: 30 November 2013 02:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Lois - 30 November 2013 02:03 PM
VYAZMA - 30 November 2013 08:14 AM

LOL  Ha Ha! 
A conversation about Meatball Calzones could easily transmogrify into a discussion about Free-will around here.
That’s not necessarily a good or bad thing.

All roads lead to a discussion about free will.

Lois

I take it you catch the double meaning in your statement here?
Or the play on words. Clever. Very clever!

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Row row row your boat gently down the stream.  Merrily Merrily merrily merrily life is but a dream!

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Posted: 01 December 2013 12:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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While Doug is more gentle, I’d like to see one of those censorship programs that block profanity attached here so I could add free-will and determinism to the “nasty” words list.  smile

Sorry Phil, but many of the threads get hijacked.  It depends on how interested the members are in discussing the topic, and that has to do with how challenging the initial post is and how much information it gives.  Few members have the time or motivation to follow links and read dissertations.  If you really want discussion, write a one or two paragraph summary of your subject and post it.

P.S.  If you changed the second ph to an f, why didn’t you change the first? LOL

Occam

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Posted: 01 December 2013 10:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Occam. - 01 December 2013 12:36 PM

While Doug is more gentle, I’d like to see one of those censorship programs that block profanity attached here so I could add free-will and determinism to the “nasty” words list.  smile

Sorry Phil, but many of the threads get hijacked.  It depends on how interested the members are in discussing the topic, and that has to do with how challenging the initial post is and how much information it gives.  Few members have the time or motivation to follow links and read dissertations.  If you really want discussion, write a one or two paragraph summary of your subject and post it.

P.S.  If you changed the second ph to an f, why didn’t you change the first? LOL

Occam

How is that if a thread moves in another direction it means the OP was hijacked? It simply evolved.

Lois

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Posted: 02 December 2013 10:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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True Lois, but I guess the difference is that as a thread moves away from the OP, the original poster sees it as being hijacked while those who were less interested in that than in some other approach see it as evolving. 

It’s just that I cringe at how often the free-will/determinism debate takes over all sorts of OP topics. 

Occam

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Posted: 02 December 2013 12:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Occam. - 02 December 2013 10:17 AM

True Lois, but I guess the difference is that as a thread moves away from the OP, the original poster sees it as being hijacked while those who were less interested in that than in some other approach see it as evolving. 

It’s just that I cringe at how often the free-will/determinism debate takes over all sorts of OP topics. 

Occam

I can see that some people may think it gets out of hand sometimes, but if you are a hard determinist, you realize that nearly every topic can be seen from a deterministic viewpoint. Everything starts to look more rational, IMO. I find I’m able to come to an understanding of how the universe, the world and humanity functions. It leads to less stress, less anger and fewer unanswerable questions about at how and why things happen. I am a much calmer and understanding person since I embraced the idea of determinism.

Of course, I also know that no one can be encouraged embrace dererminism if they aren’t led do it by their determining factors.  But I think that discussing it may act as one more factor that might bring people to an understanding and acceptance of it. IMO, the world would be a better place with more hard determinists in it.

Lois

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Posted: 16 December 2013 12:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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I’m so accustomed to documents that are full of holes it’s refreshing to see something like this. It seems you’ve managed to synthesize the Sermon the Mount with Buddhism and Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life. I don’t mean that sarcastically, that movie ends with “try not hurt anyone and read a book now and then”.

I really like the outline layout. I could skim it and see if there was something glaringly problematic (which I haven’t seen yet). The devil can be in the details. Hopefully I’ll have some more time for it.

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Posted: 16 December 2013 12:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Lausten - 16 December 2013 12:01 PM

I’m so accustomed to documents that are full of holes it’s refreshing to see something like this. It seems you’ve managed to synthesize the Sermon the Mount with Buddhism and Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life. I don’t mean that sarcastically, that movie ends with “try not hurt anyone and read a book now and then”.

I really like the outline layout. I could skim it and see if there was something glaringly problematic (which I haven’t seen yet). The devil can be in the details. Hopefully I’ll have some more time for it.

Thank you, Lausten. 

If you do decide to read the document more closely, I welcome any feedback you may have.

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Posted: 17 December 2013 03:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Lois - 02 December 2013 12:22 PM
Occam. - 02 December 2013 10:17 AM

True Lois, but I guess the difference is that as a thread moves away from the OP, the original poster sees it as being hijacked while those who were less interested in that than in some other approach see it as evolving. 

It’s just that I cringe at how often the free-will/determinism debate takes over all sorts of OP topics. 

Occam

I can see that some people may think it gets out of hand sometimes, but if you are a hard determinist, you realize that nearly every topic can be seen from a deterministic viewpoint. Everything starts to look more rational, IMO. I find I’m able to come to an understanding of how the universe, the world and humanity functions. It leads to less stress, less anger and fewer unanswerable questions about at how and why things happen. I am a much calmer and understanding person since I embraced the idea of determinism.

Of course, I also know that no one can be encouraged embrace dererminism if they aren’t led do it by their determining factors.  But I think that discussing it may act as one more factor that might bring people to an understanding and acceptance of it. IMO, the world would be a better place with more hard determinists in it.

Lois

Yes Lois, It’s so odd how people who are generally skeptics, like Occam, just don’t get this. Talk about the benefits of disbelief in gods, alternative medicine e.t.c and they get it

Talk about the benefits of disbelief in libertarian free will and their attitude is very different.

Stephen

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Posted: 30 December 2013 02:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Philosofer123 - 29 November 2013 10:45 AM

I am posting my philosophy to solicit feedback so that it may be improved.  I welcome any constructive criticism that you may have.

Enjoy!

In your section on “atheism,” you invite confusion with your description of ineffective arguments for theism.  Any argument that works is effective, of course.  You go on to describe, in effect, your stance that you find anti-theistic arguments more persuasive.

I’ll read further (my time today is short), but it’s hard for me to tell whether you’ve engaged ideas of a free will theodicy, one that proposes a necessity for permitting individually non-necessary (and otherwise gratuitous) evil.  Your mention of the existence of suffering that is not “logically” needed as a convincing point in favor of atheism gives rise to this question on my part.  Perhaps your position assumes hard determinism and I missed that by not reading the earlier derailment thread.

Thanks for posting this.  It’s got me to thinking where we draw the line between the requirement that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence and the fallacy of personal incredulity.  Is there a clear and objective line of demarcation, in your opinion?

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Posted: 30 December 2013 04:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Bryan - 30 December 2013 02:52 PM
Philosofer123 - 29 November 2013 10:45 AM

I am posting my philosophy to solicit feedback so that it may be improved.  I welcome any constructive criticism that you may have.

Enjoy!

In your section on “atheism,” you invite confusion with your description of ineffective arguments for theism.  Any argument that works is effective, of course.  You go on to describe, in effect, your stance that you find anti-theistic arguments more persuasive.

I’ll read further (my time today is short), but it’s hard for me to tell whether you’ve engaged ideas of a free will theodicy, one that proposes a necessity for permitting individually non-necessary (and otherwise gratuitous) evil.  Your mention of the existence of suffering that is not “logically” needed as a convincing point in favor of atheism gives rise to this question on my part.  Perhaps your position assumes hard determinism and I missed that by not reading the earlier derailment thread.

Thanks for posting this.  It’s got me to thinking where we draw the line between the requirement that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence and the fallacy of personal incredulity.  Is there a clear and objective line of demarcation, in your opinion?

Thanks for your initial comments and questions, Bryan. 

With respect to the various arguments for theism, the latest version of my document simply refers the reader to the recommended readings on atheism, which contain detailed refutations of the those arguments.  Each of the recommended readings discusses the free will theodicy at length.

I am not a hard determinist.  I define free will in terms of ultimate responsibility, and the regress argument that I present works regardless of whether determinism is true.

Your question regarding the tension between the fallacy of incredulity and the requirement that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence is an interesting and difficult one.  I do not believe that there is a clear line of demarcation;  the distinction must be drawn on a case-by-case basis.  Note that my positions invoking the latter requirement—atheism and moral skepticism—consist of claims of implausibility rather than outright denial, so I believe that I do not commit the fallacy of incredulity.

I look forward to any further comments you may have after reading further.

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Posted: 31 December 2013 01:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Philosofer123 - 30 December 2013 04:52 PM

With respect to the various arguments for theism, the latest version of my document simply refers the reader to the recommended readings on atheism, which contain detailed refutations of the those arguments.  Each of the recommended readings discusses the free will theodicy at length.

I am not a hard determinist.  I define free will in terms of ultimate responsibility, and the regress argument that I present works regardless of whether determinism is true.

I’d say the Strawsonesque argument you present does presume determinism, albeit not classical (hard) determinism.  (This was ill-phrased, I’m afraid:) The presumption of determinism is found in the proposition that an entity must be ultimately responsible for the mental state leading to a given free will action (Strawson equivocates on Kane’s description of free will). 

Note that my positions invoking the latter requirement—atheism and moral skepticism—consist of claims of implausibility rather than outright denial, so I believe that I do not commit the fallacy of incredulity.

I’d buy it if the line between charging implausibility and simply denying it was the line of demarcation.  But if the line is blurry I don’t know if I should buy it or not.  Which I suppose makes me incredulous.  wink  I agree that we’re probably not guilty of a fallacy in this.

I look forward to any further comments you may have after reading further.

I reminded myself to look into your reason for writing, since considering your intended audience has bearing on a well-considered critique.  I found your stated reason fascinating.  I’m a theist (don’t know if you gleaned that from my member page), and it has long been my contention that the primary obstacle (to popularization) facing the various flavors of atheism comes from the challenge of presenting a coherent system of ethics consistent with atheism.  From the metaethical basis provided by your atheism, why do you need to advise yourself on how to live?  Doesn’t denying moral realism free you from the need to bother with reminding yourself to live a certain way?

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Posted: 31 December 2013 11:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Bryan - 31 December 2013 01:14 AM
Philosofer123 - 30 December 2013 04:52 PM

With respect to the various arguments for theism, the latest version of my document simply refers the reader to the recommended readings on atheism, which contain detailed refutations of the those arguments.  Each of the recommended readings discusses the free will theodicy at length.

I am not a hard determinist.  I define free will in terms of ultimate responsibility, and the regress argument that I present works regardless of whether determinism is true.

I’d say the Strawsonesque argument you present does presume determinism, albeit not classical (hard) determinism.  (This was ill-phrased, I’m afraid:) The presumption of determinism is found in the proposition that an entity must be ultimately responsible for the mental state leading to a given free will action (Strawson equivocates on Kane’s description of free will). 

How does “the proposition that an entity must be ultimately responsible for the mental state leading to a given free will action” presume determinism?

Bryan - 31 December 2013 01:14 AM

Note that my positions invoking the latter requirement—atheism and moral skepticism—consist of claims of implausibility rather than outright denial, so I believe that I do not commit the fallacy of incredulity.

I’d buy it if the line between charging implausibility and simply denying it was the line of demarcation.  But if the line is blurry I don’t know if I should buy it or not.  Which I suppose makes me incredulous.  wink  I agree that we’re probably not guilty of a fallacy in this.

In the case of theism, what is being postulated is the existence of the theistic God, will all of his unique and amazing attributes.  Such a claim is clearly extraordinary, and thus requires extraordinary evidence.

Bryan - 31 December 2013 01:14 AM

I look forward to any further comments you may have after reading further.

Doesn’t denying moral realism free you from the need to bother with reminding yourself to live a certain way?

Not at all.  My negative hedonism is derived, in part, from my moral skepticism.  My negative hedonism is based on rational considerations, not moral ones.  And once negative hedonism is established, advising myself on how to achieve and maintain peace of mind makes perfect sense.

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Posted: 31 December 2013 12:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Philosofer123 - 31 December 2013 11:23 AM

How does “the proposition that an entity must be ultimately responsible for the mental state leading to a given free will action” presume determinism?

I’m glad you asked.  Like I said, I phrased that poorly.

Strawson’s expression of Kane’s definition implies determinism as a prerequisite for free will, and of course Strawson dismisses the possibility based on a regress that reduces everything to luck.  But that’s a misrepresentation of Kane’s view of free will.

In the case of theism, what is being postulated is the existence of the theistic God, will all of his unique and amazing attributes.  Such a claim is clearly extraordinary, and thus requires extraordinary evidence.

If it’s clearly extraordinary and requires extraordinary evidence then why do so many people believe in a god or gods?  Given the prevalence of god-belief, it is an extraordinary claim that we require extraordinary evidence for the existence of god.

The burden of proof issue developed as a technique to get atheists off the hook for a set of very difficult arguments.  Here’s how the burden of proof ought to work:  Anyone who wants someone to share their beliefs about anything should be willing to bear the burden of proof for convincing them.  And anyone is free (using the term advisedly!) to have their own standard of proof—hopefully applied consistently.  There is no metaphysical rule requiring extraordinary evidence for claims deemed extraordinary.  But you’re welcome to make that rule your own if you wish.

Bryan - 31 December 2013 01:14 AM

Doesn’t denying moral realism free you from the need to bother with reminding yourself to live a certain way?

Not at all.  My negative hedonism is derived, in part, from my moral skepticism.  My negative hedonism is based on rational considerations, not moral ones.  And once negative hedonism is established, advising myself on how to achieve and maintain peace of mind makes perfect sense.

Okay.  But that kind of makes you kind of like a hard-core would-be dictator fighting against your tendency to act in ways that do not lead to peace of mind.  By Strawson’s view, it’s entirely luck whether or not you choose to achieve the ends you’re expressing.  I think in your shoes I’d feel Nihilism nipping at my heels.

[ Edited: 31 December 2013 12:25 PM by Bryan ]
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