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comment by Saouka
Saouka  ·  2831 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Philosophical Health Check

Well that was fun!

I had three contentions, where one was serious and the others I believed were defensible.

    You agreed that: There are no objective truths about matters of fact; 'truth' is always relative to particular cultures and individuals And also that: The holocaust is an historical reality, taking place more or less as the history books report

I read this and immediately realised that this was a serious issue. I don't know if historical reality and truth are the same thing. I think I feel conflicted because I don't want to ever say "The Holocaust wasn't true" because of the sentiment expressed rather than because I believe historical events are objective truths, I wouldn't feel as concerned with "The birth of Jesus of Nazareth is a historical reality" or "The building of the Golden Gate bridge happened more or less how the history books report".

    You agreed that: Severe brain-damage can rob a person of all consciousness and selfhood And also that: On bodily death, a person continues to exist in a non-physical form
I believe in Procedural Identity; that a person can be expressed as a process in how they react to certain stimuli, rather than being bound to any physical or non-physical form. So their potential continues to exist, but upon severe brain-damage they no longer exist in the same process and stop having selfhood.

    You agreed that: So long as they do not harm others, individuals should be free to pursue their own ends But disagreed that: The possession of drugs for personal use should be decriminalised
Personal drug use isn't necessarily without harm to others. If the drug trade were harmless then the statement would be a lot easier to agree with. I think I'd rather deny that people are allowed full liberty than allow personal drug use under Mill's idea that people should have some liberties taken away to grant them more liberty. The risk of addiction in some drugs is so high that it seems foolish to allow them to all citizens, but this leads to questions about lazy citizens or citizens who don't strive to do their best.

StephenBuckley  ·  2816 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    If the drug trade were harmless then the statement would be a lot easier to agree with.

If personal drug ownership and use were decriminalized, a whole lot of the violence surrounding drug trade would dissipate. I mean, look at some common decriminalized drugs! You don't see a lot of people getting killed or making cartels for alcohol or tylenol. Because the people who want those things can go to a distributor without fear, and distributors don't have to keep themselves in the shadows and try to fight off the law and other distributors. If someone comes to my house and steals a bunch of alcohol, I can call the police and get shit settled. But if they steal cocaine, suddenly I have a problem that I can't get help on, and that's when violence starts to look better and better.

And your last sentences:

    The risk of addiction in some drugs is so high that it seems foolish to allow them to all citizens, but this leads to questions about lazy citizens or citizens who don't strive to do their best.

This is a direct disagreement with the original tenet:

    So long as they do not harm others, individuals should be free to pursue their own ends.
Being addicted to something or being "lazy" or "not striving to be your best" are not things to be made legally impermissible if you hold the belief stated. I think you actually don't hold that belief at all, but what you might mean is "People who are being productive shouldn't be impeded towards their ends," which is a wholly different matter.

Just some issues I thought of!

b_b  ·  2815 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Holy shit a StephenBuckley sighting! Welcome back. It's been lonely here without you.

StephenBuckley  ·  2815 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Haha! Well, I'm back for some amount of time! Got an email when someone mentioned me and decided to poke my head back in.

user-inactivated  ·  2827 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Hmm, Procedural Identity, I haven't heard of that before but I really like that description. I read Permutation City by Greg Egan recently, and I've been thinking a lot about the same thing, although I didn't have a name for it until now.

Do you recommend any good authors/sources that talk more about it?

Saouka  ·  2827 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Just having a look at Permutation City, it's a pretty close idea.

    It uses the assumption that human consciousness is Turing computable: that consciousness can be produced by a computer program.

Look at Searle's Chinese RoomSEPWiki for few discussions about computers running human consciousnesses. The summary is that if you imagine a room with a man sitting inside and you want to know if he can speak Chinese. You can only communicate with him by writing down words on a piece of paper and him sending back replies. So you write down some Chinese and put it through. Very quickly you get a reply that sounds reasonable. Maybe you asked for their name and they replied with their name. You ask a few more questions and he replies reasonably every time. So you assume that he can understand Chinese. The man actually has a book with a list of replies. He reads the note, looks it up in the book and replies accordingly.

Okay, you say. What if you asked him the same question twice, because a machine would give the same reply to the same stimulus. Sure, the book can be expanded. Possibly in this version it's a computer program that reacts psuedo-randomly to stimuli, or even worse can remember what it's already replied.

There's a real problem to do with whether a computer can think, or if it's just reacting correctly to stimuli. What's scary is that one of the solutions to the problem is that humans can't think either; they're just responding to stimuli. So how would we ever know if we'd made a conscious computer system?

Anyway, the theory is known under a few names. Procedural Identity/ Diachronic Identity, where Diachronic is Dia (Through) + Chronos (Time).

I'd start by looking at Personal Identity as a wholeSEP, and then looking into Temporal PartsSEP. Temporal Parts is the idea that the parts of our body persist through time and make up us, but they aren't us.

    You're performing an amazing trick right now: you're in two places at once. How do you manage to be down there, near the floor, and yet also be a metre or two up in the air? Well, it's not so very amazing: your feet are down there on the floor, and your head is up in the air. Having spatial parts enables you to be in several different places, and to have different properties in different places: you're cold down there on the tiled floor, and also warm up there by the heater, because your feet are cold and your head is warm. Moreover, having parts could let you be in the same place as someone else: if you shared a hand with a conjoined (‘Siamese’) twin, then you could both wear the same glove without jostling for space.

A survey of metaphysics / E. J. Lowe. is an amazing primer on metaphysics and what it is to have temporal parts and exist as a process rather than a substance. The key part of temporal parts is expressed here if you've got JSTOR access. It's called the paradox of 1,001 cats and it discusses how we are made up of lots of different parts but obviously none of them are sufficient for our identity. Metaphysics : a contemporary introduction / Michael Loux. I also found to be quite helpful in getting into it without being too confused.

There's also just diving straight into Identity SEP if you're feeling brave.

Also if you have access to this one, it's Philosophers of Process, who are some of the people who argue who Process Philosophy which leads into Procedural Identity. Also available here although I've only read some of it, so I can't vouch for it.

What got me into the whole topic was Heraclitus' claim that you couldn't step into the same river twice, it's referenced at the beginning of that article. The whole idea is that if you step into a river at one time, wait five minutes and step in again, you've touching entirely new particles. So how could that ever be the same river? If you're arguing for substance philosophy it really doesn't make sense, because the way we teach people to understand concepts like this is by pointing at the river and saying "River." then a few seconds later pointing to another bit and saying "River." until we understanding that despite the fact all the bits of it are different, they're all just a river.

With process philosophy you say "Well that's one process, it's a process of moving water". In the same way electricity is the continued process of electrons and you kinda get out of that problem quite easily.

Oh and the Ship of Theseus in general discusses the problem with discussing substance compared to process but that's relatively simple if you read anything on temporal parts.