Benjamin McLean

Independence, MO, United States

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Comments & conversations

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Benjamin McLean
Posted about 2 years ago
Is Faith inherently irrational?
Faith is assumption. Faith is at the back of all chains of logical reasoning. You can't reason without premises to reason from and you can't get your initial premises without making assumptions. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foundationalism This phrase "inaccurate appointment" seems to mean "inappropriate" and who is to be the judge of what is appropriate and what is not? Rationality is not a particular set of beliefs or epistemological framework. It is adherence to the fundamental laws of thought and that's all.
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Benjamin McLean
Posted over 2 years ago
Real ethics is prescriptive, not descriptive.
I'm saying arguing that animal behavior is moral or immoral rather than amoral reduces ethics to a non-rational and purely subjective status, excluding the possibility of any absolute universal truths in prescriptive ethics. Because instincts are non-rational and if ethics are founded in instinct then that implies they are founded in the non-rational. This also has self-defeating implications for science. Scientists are only able to work together under what purports to be an absolute universal ethic that assumes values of intellectual honesty and objectivity. If this ethic is just a subjective feeling or attitude derived from instinct rather than a rational principle perceived to be not just felt, but merited, then we lose all reason to trust what any other scientist or any other person says.
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Benjamin McLean
Posted over 2 years ago
Real ethics is prescriptive, not descriptive.
No point in arguing with Mitch Smith. Given that there is no common ground, no real ethics and thus no humanity, the only way to deal with such a creature would be force on the brute animal level. Which means since there is no immediate issue making that force necessary, not dealing with him at all is the answer. If TED had a way to mute somebody, I'd have muted him already.
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Benjamin McLean
Posted over 2 years ago
Real ethics is prescriptive, not descriptive.
> "For scientific information I consult scientific work, not creationist propaganda." Chesterton, as a Catholic, leaned toward a theistic evolution perspective and not a literal Creationist perspective. His beef with Darwinism was it's misapplication to philosophy particularly regarding ethics and anthropology. To describe his works as "Creationist propoganda" on par with the present Evangelical Creationist establishment in the United States is unfair and indicative of someone who hasn't actually read Chesterton. When it comes to telling the future, which is what Lewis largely does in "The Abolition of Man" there is a fine line between using a reductio ad absurdum argument (like George Orwell who followed on from Lewis's "That Hideous Strength" with his "1984") and setting up a straw-man. Is Orwell's "Big Brother" a straw-man, or it is an intentional parody of the basic direction of collectivist totalitarian statism carried to it's logical extremes? I think it would be fair to characterize the great 20th century dystopian writers (Huxley, Lewis, Orwell, Rand) as setting up intentional parody more than straw-men of current thinkers. Lewis anticipates the rise of post-modernism decades ahead of time
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Benjamin McLean
Posted over 2 years ago
How might teachers implement sites like Facebook, Twitter, or Youtube to engage students in their education?
I'll tell you one thing they shouldn't do. They shouldn't go spending money on craptarded alternative sites built specifically for educational purposes unless said sites actually offer some functionality that Facebook, Twitter, YouTube etc. don't already offer for free using accounts that students already have. Also the world should embrace OpenID so that we're not having to create dozens of accounts to get stuff done
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Benjamin McLean
Posted over 2 years ago
Real ethics is prescriptive, not descriptive.
> "Can I ask - is there a difference between "beware" and "do not"?" "Beware" is still short for "You should beware.' To try to get rid of all moral judgements is inhuman. Generally speaking, domination or in other words, lack of respect for people's free agency is wrong. Calling it wrong isn't dominating others. Moral judgements are an essential part of clear thinking.
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Benjamin McLean
Posted over 2 years ago
Real ethics is prescriptive, not descriptive.
First of all, there is no such thing as evolutionary history. There is a reason they call it "prehistoric." There is evolutionary prehistoric speculation and that's all. With no time machine and no sociological or emotional data recorded before recorded history, we have no clue, none. Read G. K. Chesterton's "The Everlasting Man" for his comments about "the Cave Man." (BTW, I'm not Catholic so I don't necessarily share all of Chesterton's views) Second, there are exclusively descriptive statements but I don't think there are exclusively prescriptive statements. All prescriptive statements do seem to contain descriptive elements. But these comments about ethics like de Waal makes suggests that we can somehow built an ethical framework from the fact that we have certain instincts or the fact that our instincts developed in a certain way. (which are exclusively descriptive facts and not values) No we can't, because without a prescriptive premise, we will not get any ethical statements at all.
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Benjamin McLean
Posted over 2 years ago
Real ethics is prescriptive, not descriptive.
> "Tell me exactly where do I suggest that we should forget reason before developing our ethics. That I can point to the "environments" or "circumstances" that lead to our evolution of some basic instincts does not mean that I suggest in any way that in order to develop our ethics we should forget reason. Does it?" Ethics being reducible to animal instincts doesn't leave room for saying we "should" do anything. That's the problem. > "That I can recognize our origins, our evolutionary history, our relationship with the rest of nature, does not mean I propose the dismissal of reason either. Does it?" You do seem to have embraced a theory that excludes any possibility of reason itself being not merely useful but true. Evolution could only provide useful, not true.