When I lived in China, drinking as a group over dinner was a common social interaction. The one acceptable excuse, on which no one would press you, was to claim that your doctor has forbid it, which is another form of "health reasons". If people do press you on it, give them a quick cold glance that says "you are being rude" and then get back to the conversation.
I do not mean this to be flippant, but Richard Feynman's -- who quit drinking when he thought he might be showing early signs of alcoholism and did not want to risk damaging his brain -- wife would ask you this:
What do you care what other people think?
If you are at a bar or a party and you determine that other people are looking down on you for not drinking, why should you care about such silliness? It's your body and your health and damn people who cannot respect that.
Good on you for not drinking.
Should we not have at least some good evidence that the world has been measurably changed by charitable actions before positing this? Can we also establish that the making of as much money as possible does not itself have costs and do damage?
It can be easily, even sleepily argued that many of the popular vehicles for becoming wealthy are quite destructive. We can happily found charities to ameliorate this damage, but what of it?
You may have excellent arguments to support this charity statement, but these are not at all apparent to me. Please do enumer... (read more)
If you think that people working in synthetic biology and bioengineering are doing worthwhile work (and I entirely agree that they are), then go help them. Why the ennui? Set yourself to spend a month investigating these fields and find if you are able to suss out interesting ideas that might (how can you know?) be of use. If your imagination is sparked, then you should find a job in a lab on a trial basis and take your investigations further. I would encourage anyone with a good mind to go into this area of research, as it will doubtless benefit me (I... (read more)
I think this objection, though I empathize with your bringing it up, is not really worth our time in considering.
Look, we all know, if we are honest, that there is a kind of skepticism (the result of realizing the problem of solipsism and following through on its logical consequences) that cannot be eliminated from the system. It is universal and infects everything.
For this reason, we really need to know more about why these folks have objections to these conclusions. Why we should give particular credence to the opinions of members of the philosophica... (read more)
You might read Nicholas Taleb's book The Black Swan for more ideas on this topic, as he agrees with you on your main point. He argues, I think strongly, that the best way to go about discovering new ideas and methods is to obsessively tinker with things, and thus to expose oneself to the lucky accident, which is generally the real reason for insight or original invention.
Very well put.
I think an important part of our disagreement, at least for me, is that you are interested in people generally and morality as it is now --- at least your examples come from this set --- while I am trying to restrict my inquiry to the most rational type of person, so that I can discover a morality that all rational people can be brought to through reason alone without need for error or chance. If such a morality does not exist among people generally, then I have no interest for the morality of people generally. To bring it up is a non sequitur in such a ... (read more)
I think we might still be talking past each other, but here goes:
The reason I posit and emphasize a distinction between subjective judgments and those that are otherwise -- I have a weak reason for not using the term "objective" here -- is to highlight a particular feature of moral claims that is lacking, and in thus being lacked, weakens them. That is, I take a claim to be subjective if to hold it myself I must come upon it by chance. I cannot be brought to it through reason alone. It is an opinion or intuition that I cannot trace logically i... (read more)
Perhaps this is just silliness, but I am curious how you would feel if the question were:
"You have a choice: Either one person gets to experience pure, absolute joy for 50 years, or 3^^^3 people get to experience a moment of pleasure on the level experienced when eating a popsicle."
Do you choose popsicle?
Forgive me for being sloppy with my language. Given what I wrote, your objection is entirely reasonable.
The idea that I meant to express is that, while it seems safe to assume that virtually everyone who has ever lived long enough to become a thinking person has encountered some kind of moral question in his life, we cannot say that an appreciable percentage of these people has sat and carefully analyzed these questions.
Even if we restrict ourselves only to people alive today and living in the United States -- an enormous restriction considering the per... (read more)
If I take you correctly, you are pointing out that thought experiments, now abstract, can become actual through progress and chance of time, circumstance, technology, etc., and thus are useful in understanding morality.
If this is an unfair assessment, correct me!
I agree with you, but I also hold to my original claim, as I do not think that they contradict. I agree that the thought experiment can be a useful tool for talking about morality as a set of ideas and reactions out-of-time. However, I do not agree that the thought experiments I have read have ... (read more)
I think we may indeed be talking past each other, so I will try to state my case more cogently.
I am not denying that people do possess ideas about something named "morality". It would be absurd to claim otherwise, as we are here discussing such ideas.
I am denying that, even if I accept all of their assumptions, individuals who claim these ideas as more-than-subjective --- by that I think I mean that they claim their ideas able to be applied to a group rather than only to one man, the holder of the ideas --- can convince me that these ideas are... (read more)
I find it impossible to engage thoughtfully with philosophical questions about morality because I remain unconvinced of the soundness of the first principles that are applied in moral judgments. I am not interested in a moral claim that does not have a basis in some fundamental idea with demonstrable validity. I will try to contain my critique to those claims that do attempt at least what I think to be this basic level of intellectual rigor.
Note 1: I recognize that I introduced many terms in the above statement that are open to challenge as loaded and... (read more)
Speaking as an undergraduate student in a computer science department, I can confirm your observation. I have also observed that while coding, the philosophical pumps start working and good -- or at least interesting -- ideas about other subjects are often produced. The most interesting off-topic conversations I have had with other students in any class have been had in computer science classes.
I have also noticed that my ability to deal with mathematical problems that are generally algorithmic mentally has been improving rapidly. I suspect the regular practice of holding a process in one's mind while encoding it is related to this.