3 of 21
3
Responsibility without free will
Posted: 04 September 2007 07:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4052
Joined  2006-11-28

Even a chimp does not kill it’s own unless it is mentally ill OR the “tribe” is giving corperal punishment for such an act.  In most cases they chase the murder away from the “tribe”, but if it doesn’t leave, then corperal punishment is implimented.

I hate to picky, Mriana, but this bit is incorrect. Though the pendulum has swung several times on chimps and violence (from murderous killers to models of peace and love), it is clear that they kill each other for a variety of reasons. Groups (usually mostly of males, though not always) kill outsiders on the border of territories. Individuals kill infants (males possibly for reproductive reasons or by accident when displaying) and for food (not common, but more than one individual documented to do this). And deaths from fights between males are not rare.

And while I studied primates in grad school and so don’t have as much experience outside the clinical setting with cats, I know infanticide is not unusual. And as for killing “accidentally” during a fight, that sounds like a tough thing to prove. Anyway, And regardless of what chimps or other animalsdo, this doesn’t have a great deal of bearing on what people do or should do. There are good reasons why, in general, most group-living animals don’t routinely kill conspecifics, but I wouldn’t want to go down the road of generalizing this and then saying to do so is “unnatural” or “primitive.”

 Signature 

The SkeptVet
The SkeptVet Blog
Militant Agnostic: I don’t know, and neither do you!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 04 September 2007 07:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  7506
Joined  2007-03-02

Guess I need to find updated info on chimps.  I have not seen a cat, unless she was unstable, commit infantcide yet.  The only time I had a cat eat her young was when one was stillborn.  She tried to eat it, but we took it from her.  Supposedly they do this to keep peditors away in the wild, so I at the time (I was 7 then) I did not see the purpose in her eating her stillborn kitten.  I still don’t, but I have seen one of my other females attempt it (after I was grown) and took the dead kitten from her.  I had one cat try to kill her kittens, but she was not right in the head to begin with and her being bred was not intentional, but I was a child at the time and didn’t have control over the matter.  Now that I am an adult and I saw a female Siamese that seemed like she was not the motherly type, I would have her spayed.  I’m wondering about the current one I have.  She’s not unstable personality wise, but she is awfully small for 1 1/2 and breeding her concerns me.  :(  That is another matter though and not personality.

 Signature 

Mriana
“Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” ~ Iris Hineman (Lois Smith) The Minority Report

Profile
 
 
Posted: 04 September 2007 07:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  672
Joined  2007-06-17

The purpose was fresh meat.

 Signature 

http://web.mac.com/normsherman/iWeb/Site/Podcast/833F918B-485B-42F4-B18C-4AB1436D9B87.html

Profile
 
 
Posted: 04 September 2007 07:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  7506
Joined  2007-03-02

I don’t THINK so, Narwhol.  More than likely it is a throw back instinct to when they were wild.  That’s just a guess though.

 Signature 

Mriana
“Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” ~ Iris Hineman (Lois Smith) The Minority Report

Profile
 
 
Posted: 04 September 2007 08:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4052
Joined  2006-11-28

Well, most cases of queens killing kittens seem to be related to stress or disturbances near where they are nesting. It’s not unusal for them to eat the kittens afterwards, but I doubt it’s really about food since it’s a pretty energetically inefficient way to get a meal. As to why it happens, I think it’s speculation, and lots of reasonable and unprovable stories could be devised. There may be sound, adaptive reasons, or it may be a maladaptive behavior resulting from domestication or circumstances.

Cats are not as altered by domestication as dogs, but there’s no question they have been changed by our breeding. I wouldn’t necessarily say a behavior is a “throw back instinct to when they were wild,” since I’m not sure that makes sense. All instincts are by definition innate, and the only alternative to one developed before the species was domesticated would be one developed since then. I think it sounds, Mriana, like you’re trying to label behaviors humans find distasteful as abberrations in our otherwise “civilised” pets (“not right in the head,” “not the motherly type,” “a throwback instinct”). Much as we love them, I think that’s projectng our values on them a little.

 Signature 

The SkeptVet
The SkeptVet Blog
Militant Agnostic: I don’t know, and neither do you!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 04 September 2007 09:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  7506
Joined  2007-03-02

Well, I can’t think of better words and I do look at them as being like my little girls.  smile  We talk to each other.  Sort of.  LOL  Now I doubt they understand me anymore than I understand them, but you would think we were actually having a conversation the way it sounds.  It’s the silliest conversation though and probably all based on time of day- like feeding time.  I get up, they know they get food.  Simple as that, but I still talk to them as they meow away.  They scratch away at the door (an inside one for they are indoor only) and cry wanting in…  You get the point that it’s not a real conversation.  Oh they have me well trained, don’t they?  LOL

 Signature 

Mriana
“Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” ~ Iris Hineman (Lois Smith) The Minority Report

Profile
 
 
Posted: 04 September 2007 10:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4052
Joined  2006-11-28

As I frequently tell my clients, “Dogs have owners. Cats have servants.” grin

 Signature 

The SkeptVet
The SkeptVet Blog
Militant Agnostic: I don’t know, and neither do you!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 05 September 2007 12:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  7506
Joined  2007-03-02

Oh yeah!  My girls are queens.  :D

 Signature 

Mriana
“Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” ~ Iris Hineman (Lois Smith) The Minority Report

Profile
 
 
Posted: 05 September 2007 02:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]
Moderator
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  5508
Joined  2006-10-22

One of my favorite newspaper cartoons was a scene of a man opening the door to his home.  There were three animals there.  The balloon over the head of each was:  The dog - “He’s home, he’s home, he’s home.”  The parrot: “Food, food, food.”  The cat:  “Who the hell is that?”

I have a nice relationship with the feral cat who lives in the bushes on the hill part of my lot.  She is there every morning to be fed and allows me to pet her at the family room door while I put out the food.  However, if I step outside, I suddenly become this predator who is determined to eat her, and she runs like hell up the hill and into the bushes.  I like all animals, but dogs are a hell of a lot smarter than cats in my opinion.

Occam

Profile
 
 
Posted: 05 September 2007 09:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  252
Joined  2007-07-12
dougsmith - 04 September 2007 10:58 AM
wandering - 04 September 2007 10:26 AM

So what is your reason that it is wrong to harm humans?


Secondly, just because A and B are made of the same stuff, it doesn’t follow that if it’s OK to destroy A it’s also OK to destroy B.

The fact that it’s wrong to harm humans isn’t because of the stuff they’re made of. It’s not like the harm comes with the stuff.

.....
” I could come up with a whole raft of reasons—that people are generally good, intelligent, complex, unique, that they can help us, that they prefer not being harmed, etc., etc.”


When you phrase it in the form of ” It’s not like the harm comes with the stuff “, it does sound silly. But I can rephrase it in another way - people and chairs, are not different from an ontological point of view, according to most materialists. If one is supposed to treat two entities in a very different way, there should be some onthological reason behind it.

Actually, when people say “people have feelings and chairs don’t” that is some ontological difference. They don’t really think that “everything is matter”.

 

I agree that when you think that people are generally good, intelligent, complex, unique, that they can help us, that they prefer not being harmed it makes sense not to harm humans. But these are qualities that it is not so easy to fit inside a materealist framework - they come from other considerations. For example, how can complex molecules prefer not being harmed? How can complex molecules be good? If all is matter, how can matter possess the quality of being good? It is not easy to fit the materealist perspective with our everyday emotions- so I think when materalists think about ethics, they forget about their materealist viewpoint.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 05 September 2007 09:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  418
Joined  2007-07-19

I understand that dogs are smarter than cats, that is easy.  wink  sorry Mriana.  What I have never understood is the concept of free-will without the supernatural.  Why/how is a free-will concept necessary or relevant to an atheist?

I can always read old 20 page long free-will posts but I would much rather be involved in realtime.

 Signature 

“It is the tension between creativity and skepticism that has produced the stunning and unexpected findings of science.” ~ Carl Sagan

Profile
 
 
Posted: 05 September 2007 12:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4052
Joined  2006-11-28

Wandering,

I agree that from a materialist point of view, chairs and people are composed of the same materials. But you are mistaken in saying they must thus have the same properties. Obviously, the nature and arrangement of their physical components yields different physical properties, and some of these may have moral relevance. I would argue that the capacity for suffering, which is shared to one degree or another by most animals, and arguably not shared by plants and inanimate objects, has moral reelevance and can be used, as Mriana suggests, to make distinctions as to how we should feel obligated to treat them regardless of the fact that the same ultimate kinds of matter compose animals and all other things. It is not giving up materialism to say people have feelings and chairs don’t any more than it is to say rocks are hard and marshmallows are soft. Now there is lots of room for argument about the importance of differences in properties, but I don’t think there is any problem in making distinctions between chairs and peoples based on their different properties. All-in-all, I prefer sitting on chairs and having sex with people to the other way around! grin

 Signature 

The SkeptVet
The SkeptVet Blog
Militant Agnostic: I don’t know, and neither do you!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 05 September 2007 04:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 43 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  7506
Joined  2007-03-02
retrospy - 05 September 2007 09:56 AM

What I have never understood is the concept of free-will without the supernatural.  Why/how is a free-will concept necessary or relevant to an atheist?

I can always read old 20 page long free-will posts but I would much rather be involved in realtime.

Seriously, I’m not sure what you mean by “free-will”.  We all have freedom of choice, but I don’t think that is the same.  We make choices in life and then we just have to accept the consequences for the choices we make as well as the responsibility for our actions.

 Signature 

Mriana
“Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” ~ Iris Hineman (Lois Smith) The Minority Report

Profile
 
 
Posted: 05 September 2007 05:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 44 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  672
Joined  2007-06-17
wandering - 05 September 2007 09:48 AM

But I can rephrase it in another way - people and chairs, are not different from an ontological point of view, according to most materialists. If one is supposed to treat two entities in a very different way, there should be some onthological reason behind it.

Actually, when people say “people have feelings and chairs don’t” that is some ontological difference. They don’t really think that “everything is matter”.

This is silly, because the existence of feelings is ontology.  That doesn’t mean that they are matter.  The existence of various forms of energy are not matter, but from ontology, one would say they exist.  You are confusing intangible with non-ontological.  Ontology just reasons wheter something is, not whether you can touch it.

Also, you say in the first of these quoted paragraphs “there should be some ontological reason behind it.”  No, no, there should be an ethical reason behind murder being bad.  You could have an ontological reasoning that says that murder exists or doesn’t, but not an ontological reason why it’s bad.  And, you say we should; why should we?  Why can’t we have reasons that come from epistemology or etchics.  Are we purely into ontology?  We couldn’t reason that way without espistemology.  And why, when we’re not discussing a question of ontology should we use ontological reasoning?  That sounds absurd to me.  It’s like a historian having to use historical arguments to give someone directions to the train station.  We’re well-rounded individuals, but we know full well that physically we’re just a bunch of chemicals and energy.  However, that says nothing about our social interactions, our ethics, our likes and dislikes, etc.  You have to go to different subjects for those.

However, as to whether we have free will or not I say of course not - we’re a bunch of chemicals subject to physical laws.  As to whether we have responsibility or not, well that depends on our individual consciences, which are the result of electrical energy passing through logic gates that have developed (and continue to develop in connectivity terms) within our brains, and which neurotransmitters are currently bathing them - or which ones start to bathe them as a result of what our sensory neurones detect.  And what memories are stored in fixed configuration gates.

 Signature 

http://web.mac.com/normsherman/iWeb/Site/Podcast/833F918B-485B-42F4-B18C-4AB1436D9B87.html

Profile
 
 
Posted: 06 September 2007 07:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 45 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  895
Joined  2007-05-09

I do understand the debate over “free will” and “determinism”. I just wanted to state that up front because I don’t want to get into a long explanation of my views. I at this time, find the debate a waste of time. It is strikingly obvious that humans have some form of “free will”. The philosophical opinions are valuable, as are the behaviorist and scientist. Even with our knowledge of genetics with its amazing view into our potential based on familial influence, we are left with choice and personal responsibility. I think everything at our disposal must be taken into account to understand who we are. For me, the evidence thus far guides my opinion that humans can accept evolving moral standards, can create personal meaning, and view the entire world as a place where humans can obtain the possibilities to work together. With that I personally think the debate over “free will” can work to divide, this is done while crusty old philosophical permanence still holds some in it’s grasp.

Profile
 
 
   
3 of 21
3
 
‹‹ Cultural Relativism      The Totality ››