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Comment author: Jiro 26 July 2017 09:56:49PM 2 points [-]

(a) Harris says Trump is unethical and cites the example of Trump gate-crashing a charity event to falsely get credit for himself. Adams responds by saying that others are equally bad—that all politicians do morally dubious things. When Harris points out that Obama would never do such a thing, Adams says Trump is a very public figure and hence people have lots of dirt on him.

There's nothing wrong with Adams here, because

1) Harris's implicit argument is that Trump is unethical compared to other politicians, even if he doesn't actually say it. Thus, pointing out that other politicians are unethical is a legitimate rebuttal.

2) As far as I can tell from your summary, the argument is not "Trump gets caught at more bad things than other politicians", the argument is "Trump does more bad things than other politicians". If someone brings up an example of another politician who doesn't get caught as much, it's entirely proper to point out that it's harder for that politician to get caught and that not getting caught doesn't mean not doing bad things.

Instead, Adams always says, Trump “doesn’t pass the fact checks”. This move essentially makes it sound as if there’s some organization whose arbitrary and biased standards are what Trump doesn’t pass and so downplays the much more important fact that Trump lies.

This has some of the same problems as #1. Pretty much nobody tells the truth 100% of the time; saying that a politician lies really means he lies more than other politicians. Just because nobody explicitly said "... more than other politicians" doesn't mean the implication is not there. It is entirely correct to rebut this by saying "actually, other politicians lie, they just don't get caught at it by fact checkers".

Furthermore, if you don't think there are organizations that use arbitrary and biased standards for Trump lies, you haven't been paying attention to the controversy over fact-checking sites. Generally those sites are correct when it comes to facts, but selective about which facts to check and whether a literally true or false statement counts as mostly false or mostly true.

Comment author: matteyas 18 July 2017 11:02:05AM 0 points [-]

For Pascal Wager's specific scenario, I'd probably ask Omega "Really? Either God doesn't exist or everything the Catholics say is correct? Even the self-contradicting stuff?" And of course, he'd decline to answer and fly away.

The point is that in the least convenient world for you, Omega would say whatever it is that you would need to hear to not slip away. I don't know what that is. Nobody but you do. If it is about eternal damnation for you, then you've hopefully found your holy grail, and as some other poster pointed out, why this is the holy grail for you can be quite interesting to dig into as well.

The point raised, as I see it, is just to make your stance on Pascal's wager contend against the strongest possible ideas.

Comment author: Jiro 24 July 2017 06:25:47PM 0 points [-]

The point is that in the least convenient world for you, Omega would say whatever it is that you would need to hear to not slip away.

The least convenient world is one where Omega answers his objections. The least convenient possible world is one where Omega answers his objections in a way that's actually possible. And it may not be possible for Omega to answer some objections.

Comment author: entirelyuseless 18 July 2017 02:27:12AM 0 points [-]

I can then notice that when I look at that chair, and when I look at an object inside my house, they look pretty much the same. So I conclude that the object inside my house seems to be what you would call a chair.

If you notice when things look pretty much the same, then I can explain what I mean by consciousness, without you having to see what my consciousness is like. In fact, we can assume I have no consciousness and you are the only one who has it: we can talk about it anyway.

First, notice that things look pretty similar at all the times when you are awake, compared to times when you are sleep. That is like noticing that two chairs are alike. Then, notice that when you are asleep and dreaming, that is also similar, although less similar, to the times when you are awake, and dissimilar to the times when you are asleep and not dreaming. Then, suppose there are also some times when you sleepwalk, but without dreaming. Those are noticeably similar to times when you are asleep without dreaming but doing nothing -- in fact those times seem exactly alike until later when you judge them by other evidence.

Now when I say "you are conscious," I am talking about the similarity between the times when you are awake and the times when you are dreaming, in contrast with the times when you are asleep and not dreaming.

Comment author: Jiro 18 July 2017 09:50:44PM *  0 points [-]

Now when I say "you are conscious," I am talking about the similarity between the times when you are awake and the times when you are dreaming, in contrast with the times when you are asleep and not dreaming.

You don't have a separate word which means "Jiro's consciousness" and nothing else. You have a single word which is used both for mine and yours, which implies that they are the similar. What you've just described fails to imply that similarity, so it doesn't match the way you are using the word.

Comment author: entirelyuseless 17 July 2017 01:41:36PM 1 point [-]

But what is watching someone sitting, and what is "getting an idea of what sitting is"? Those aren't things which are easy to watch.

And if you say you can notice yourself watching someone sitting and notice yourself getting an idea of what sitting is, then you can notice yourself being conscious. So there shouldn't be any difficulty figuring out whether you are conscious. The difficulty (if there is one) would be figuring out whether someone else is conscious. And it is equally difficult to know whether someone else has an idea of what sitting is.

Comment author: Jiro 17 July 2017 07:11:58PM 0 points [-]

I think maybe I'm not being clear.

If you want to tell me what a chair is, you can point to a chair and its characteristics and I can look at it. I can then notice that when I look at that chair, and when I look at an object inside my house, they look pretty much the same. So I conclude that the object inside my house seems to be what you would call a chair. (Of course, you'd probably describe a chair in a more complicated way, but it would come down to a lot of instances of that.)

If I try to do that for consciousness, one of the intermediate steps is missing. I can't look at your consciousness, then look at mine, and say "hmm, they seem to be the same sort of thing". Each one is (or is purported to be) only visible to one person.

The fact that I can "notice myself being conscious" doesn't change this. I can't compare consciousnesses. While it's true that I can't directly compare my idea of sitting to your idea of sitting, I can go through the intermediary of asking you to sit, then comparing what I see when you sit to what I see when I sit.

Comment author: entirelyuseless 16 July 2017 02:46:16PM 2 points [-]

Can you figure out whether there are chairs in your house? How? Suppose you say that there are. How do you know they are chairs and not something else? If you answer those questions, we can continue in the same way and ask how you know those answers are right and what they mean. You will never be able to explain any concept without using other concepts, and we can always say, "but what are those things?"

I would say there is no difference; consciousness is no harder to recognize than chairs (and in fact a bit easier.) If you think there is a difference, what is it?

Comment author: Jiro 17 July 2017 04:34:53AM *  0 points [-]

If I ask you to describe a chair, ultimately you'll describe it in terms of things I can perceive. "A chair is something made for sitting. Sitting is this thing I'm doing" and I can watch you sitting, therefore getting an idea of what sitting is. I can't watch your consciousness.

Comment author: g_pepper 15 July 2017 07:48:03PM 0 points [-]

How do I know that some activity is "pondering your own consciousness"?

Isn't that what you were doing when you said "Can I be sure that I'm conscious"?

It seems to me that one's own consciousness is beyond dispute if one is able to think about things (including but not limited to one's own consciousness) and have first-person experiences. Even if one disputes the consciousness of others (for example, if one is a solipsist), I don't see how anyone can reasonably doubt his/her own consciousness.

Comment author: Jiro 16 July 2017 05:57:40AM *  0 points [-]

It's turtles all the way down. Just like you can't give me a description of consciousness, and you can't give me a description of "pondering your own consciousness", you can't give me a description of "first person experiences" either. You can't give me a description of any of these related concepts except in terms of other such concepts.

It's not so much that I'm doubting whether I'm conscious, but rather I'm doubting whether I can figure out whether I'm conscious. I can't figure out if I have something when you can't communicate to me exactly what it is that I may or may not have.

Comment author: g_pepper 14 July 2017 03:22:26PM 0 points [-]

Nobody can give me a description of consciousness

True, consciousness seems to defy precise definitions.

Can I be sure that I'm conscious?

It seems to me that consciousness as commonly understood is necessary for having first-person experiences of the sort that I have, and presumably you have also. And I suspect that pondering your own consciousness implies that you are in fact conscious.

Comment author: Jiro 15 July 2017 03:37:28PM 0 points [-]

But that just moves the question back a level. How do I know that some activity is "pondering your own consciousness"? You can't give me a description of "pondering your own consciousness" that can be used to determine if that is taking place.

Comment author: turchin 06 July 2017 10:40:16AM 1 point [-]

The argument is too general, as it also proves that it is impossible to know that another biological human has conscious. Maybe nobody except me-now has it.

I knew a person who claimed that he could create 4-dimensional images in hid mind eye. I don't know should I believe him and how to check it.

Comment author: Jiro 14 July 2017 02:56:24PM 0 points [-]

Can I be sure that I'm conscious? Nobody can give me a description of consciousness which I can look at and say "sure, I have one of those." The best they can do is describe consciousness in terms of other things, which they can't give a description for either, which doesn't really help.

In response to Why truth? And...
Comment author: Eddie_T 11 July 2017 05:17:03PM 0 points [-]

"For this reason, I would also label as "morality" the belief that truthseeking is pragmatically important to society..."

This seems like a naive understanding of what morality is. It seems like you are referring to a certain subset of ethics, in this case utilitarianism (do what promotes the greatest good among the greatest number). But this is just one part of a class of normative ethical theories. The class to which I'm referring to is consequentialism where essentially, the end justifies the means. I'd rather not get off topic here and simply state that a morality-driven pursuit of truth does not necessarily mean that the person is motivated by the "greater good".

Also, Spock's calculation is off by one order of magnitude, not two. He predicts, roughly, a 98% chance of destruction yet you say in practice, the Enterprise is destroyed 10% of the time. That's just about one order of magnitude off.

In response to comment by Eddie_T on Why truth? And...
Comment author: Jiro 11 July 2017 08:15:18PM 1 point [-]

Remember that that's a 11 year old post you're replying to.

Comment author: Zarm 26 June 2017 11:11:40PM *  2 points [-]

I'm extremely surprised that the percentage of vegans here is only slightly higher than the general public. I would consider myself an aspiring rationalist and I've had countless, countless arguments over the subject of animal rights and from everything I've found (which is a whole lot), the arguments side heavily towards veganism. I can literally play bingo with the responses I get from the average person, that's how reoccurring the rationalizations are. I can go on in much, much greater extant as to why veganism is a good idea, and from posts and comments I've seen on here, it seems that most people on here don't actually know too much about it, but for this I'm going to leave it at this.

Now, I'm not addressing those that say morality is subjective and those that live solely for themselves.

For those that DO think unnecessary suffering is wrong and have other altruistic tendencies, what is your perspective on veganism?

Comment author: Jiro 29 June 2017 01:37:43PM *  2 points [-]

I'm extremely surprised that the percentage of vegans here is only slightly higher than the general public.

Actually, I'd suggest that that's evidence that your premise is false. In other words, if veganism is not as correct as you think, that explains away your troubling observation. There are things which rationalists believe at higher frequency than the general public, such as atheism. The fact that veganism is not one should tell you something.

I can literally play bingo with the responses I get from the average person, that's how reoccurring the rationalizations are.

The average person is not good at arguing anything, whether correct or not.

Furthermore, seeing "rationalizations" demonstrates exactly nothing. If you believe in X, and X is true, you'll see rationalizations from people who don't believe X. If you believe in X and X is false, you'll see good reasons from people who don't believe X, but those good reasons will look like rationalizations to you. No matter what the true state of affairs is, whether you are right or wrong, you'll "see rationalizations".

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