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    1. How do you convince someone of the value of egalitarianism?

      An odd question to ask, I'll admit, but I think it's worth asking. It's hard to have a public conversation today about political or politicised topics because people will pipe up and tell you that...

      An odd question to ask, I'll admit, but I think it's worth asking.

      It's hard to have a public conversation today about political or politicised topics because people will pipe up and tell you that you're crazy and your ideas are completely backwards. And the reason why people say this is often driven by conflicts between personally held values rather than the ideas themselves. As a result, these conversations usually end up with both sides arguing past eachother and no concensus is ever made; nobody is happy.

      One of the more common reasons for these arguements is typically because one party believes in egalitarianism - the belief that all people should be treated the same - and the other one does not. It's particularly strange to see given that so many countries have egalitarianism as a cornerstone to their government and laws. Yet we still see many people trying to take away rights and freedoms from certain classes of people.

      Regardless of any particular conversation, what do you think is the best way to convince someone in the value of egalitarianism? How do you convince someone that they're not part of a higher class who has power over another?

      13 votes
    2. What is your favorite thought experiment?

      Mine is: do others see the same colours that I do? As in, is my "green" the same as your "green"? Or would my "green" look "blue" to you? I like this one because it's completely possible, points...

      Mine is: do others see the same colours that I do? As in, is my "green" the same as your "green"? Or would my "green" look "blue" to you? I like this one because it's completely possible, points out the plasticity of our minds and makes a distinction between sensation and perception. There are variations of this but I like it formulated as such. It's my favorite because it was also my first foray into the philosophy of consciousness and I'm often reminded of it when in an altered state of consciousness (e.g. by psychedelics).

      Your favorite experiment can be whatever: either something that has affected you deeply / changed your life or just something fun and amusing to think about.

      48 votes
    3. Help me understand why suicide is so taboo?

      Even just joking about it people get their panties in a bunch. Like, who's to disapprove of someone doing what THEY want with their OWN life? We can all co-exist when it comes to other big life...

      Even just joking about it people get their panties in a bunch. Like, who's to disapprove of someone doing what THEY want with their OWN life?

      We can all co-exist when it comes to other big life decisions like unhealthy eating, smoking, drinking, careers, marriage, kids, etc but god forbid someone mentioning suicide. Because that's fucked up.

      I just don't understand the audacity of someone to sit there and tell me "you can't talk like that" when ever I am feeling that way. Maybe the person could offer help? Or maybe instead of assuming I'm being a manipulative asshole take a second to think "hey, this person might actually kill them-self".

      I AM NOT SUICIDALE! I was and maybe somedays I am again but I am in the process of recovery and finding things that give life meaning. It just peeves me when somethings so unexpected it just gets shoved in the "we don't talk about that" category or "seek professional help" category. Like bitch 1) I think it's time we talk about it and 2) I've been seeking professional help for 2 years now.

      What if a person wants more info on possible ways to kill themselves? So what? Yeah but think about the loved ones! Well lets talk about that too! I think communication is key. Like, me saying I want to die to my parents and them being like "hey that's cool. We love you and support you in your decision to end your own life" would be absolutely fucking amazing. But noooooo.... say anything like that and it's all "go to the mental hospital" or "no I don't want you to die" like what? Are you telling me what to do with my life?

      I personally think sanctioned suicide should be legal. I legit think there should be centers you can check yourself into to get put down. There, I said it. I mean, if you believe in heaven why wouldn't you kill yourself and also if you don't believe in heaven why wouldn't you kill yourself? LOL.

      I am just merely asking why is it taboo?

      /rant

      Sorry if this isn't the right place to post. Seriously hoping for actual discussion here vs on reddit you just get a lot of people commenting help line numbers like can we just TALK ABOUT IT?

      28 votes
    4. Would you consider it healthy to talk to your subconscious?

      I'm having a hard time wording any of this, so I apologize if this is rambly, badly titled, and especially if it's not qualifying quality Most people occasionally talk to themselves, I'm sure, and...

      I'm having a hard time wording any of this, so I apologize if this is rambly, badly titled, and especially if it's not qualifying quality

      Most people occasionally talk to themselves, I'm sure, and I've seen cases on reddit where people develop different personalities to talk to (tulpas mainly). But what I'm talking about doesn't feel like the same thing as that. I remember reading this article in school about this debate in psychology, it was suggested that what we consider us, isn't the only one there. There's this instinctual 'black box' thing there that also has a say in the matter, but we never know its there (unless things go wrong)

      Then I found out about when some patients are given a corpus callosotomy (that thing where they cut the wire between the two halves of the brain) they begin to exhibit some strange behaviors that are completely out of their control. But that isn't even the whole story because technically all they lost was the ability to rationalize what their "alien hand" was doing. If the hemispheres weren't split, they'd have still moved their hand but they would know exactly why, and wouldn't be freaked out by it.

      Long story short, I grew up with the impression that "me" is some wacky tag team of consciousness. Whenever I remember something out of the blue, or whenever I improvise some answer in college, or even when I notice myself eyeing up the fridge more than usual; I'll actually 'have a little chat' with myself in my head. Sometimes it's pure amazement and praise, other times its reminders to be disciplined. Nothing is ever said back, obviously, I'd be worried something was.

      I'm not even sure why I made this post. I suppose I'm just curious if any of this had the potential to backfire (negative feedback loop) or be a harmful way of thinking, as well as hear your thoughts on subconsciousness.

      13 votes
    5. Exploitation and coercion

      Those two words and their relationship with "consent" and "freedom" fascinate me. I've sort of ruminated about it in the back of my mind for a while, but haven't sorted a lot out. It would be nice...

      Those two words and their relationship with "consent" and "freedom" fascinate me. I've sort of ruminated about it in the back of my mind for a while, but haven't sorted a lot out.

      It would be nice for two people to be able to make any agreement they like between each other without restrictions. "I'll do this for me and you give me that in return". If there aren't restrictions on what sort of agreement two private people make, in some sense, that can be maximum freedom.

      But then exploitation and coercion come into the mix. "If you don't sign this contract, I will kill you" is a clear example of an agreement not being free. "If you don't sign this employment contract, you won't be able to afford to buy food" is still fairly clear, but a little further removed. "If you don't sign this employment contract, you'll be able to get food, but the food you can afford will be heavily processed and laden with oils and processed sugars, and you could suffer poor health in the future" is getting into a lot of grey area.

      We talk a lot about minimum wage workers being exploited. It's true that most of them (almost all of them?) hate their jobs. It's also true that life necessarily requires sacrifices. I don't have a good framework for thinking about what point something becomes exploitative or unethical.

      It comes up in personal relationships as well. "If you don't have sex with me, I will kill myself" is clearly abusive and manipulative. "If you don't have sex with me, I will break up with you" is slightly more removed. "If you don't quit using heroin, I will break up with you" is a little grey.

      At what point is someone being coerced in a relationship vs two people acknowledging sacrifices they have to make to stay together? I don't have a good framework for thinking about this.

      Further things to think about: at what point of mental illness can a person no longer ethically enter into an agreement? What about a normal person who suffers from the usual human psychological biases? At what point is it exploitative to use psychological biases when negotiating with someone? This can go all the way from the benign (ending a price in ".99") to the damaging (designing casino games with flashing lights and buzzers, etc.)

      I don't expect someone to be able to give me a pat answer to this. If you think you can give me a 1-line "Exploitation is ...", I think you're probably missing something. But I am curious how other people think about these things, and what examples or what books you've found that have been helpful to you sorting things out.

      13 votes
    6. What, if anything, makes a morally good war?

      I've been consuming the darkness that is wartime histories from the past three or four centuries and I feel like I've encountered a lot of people who had what they believed to be justifiable...

      I've been consuming the darkness that is wartime histories from the past three or four centuries and I feel like I've encountered a lot of people who had what they believed to be justifiable reasons to launch wars against other powers. There are people who thought they had divine right to a particular position of power and so would launch a war to assert that god-given right. There are people who believed in a citizen's right to have some (any) say in how their tax money gets used in government and so would fight wars over that. People would fight wars to, as John Cleese once said, "Keep China British." Many wars are started to save the honor of a country/nation. Some are started in what is claimed to be self-defense and later turns out to have been a political play instigated to end what has been a political thorn in their sides.

      In all this time, I've struggled to really justify many of these wars, but some of that comes with the knowledge of what other wars have cost in terms of human carnage and suffering. For some societies in some periods, the military is one of the few vehicles to social mobility (and I think tend to think social mobility is grease that keeps a society functioning). Often these conflicts come down to one man's penis and the inability to swallow their pride to find a workable solution unless at the end of a bayonet. These conflicts also come with the winning powers taking the opportunity to rid themselves of political threats and exacting new harms on the defeated powers (which comes back around again the next time people see each other in a conflict).

      So help keep me from embracing a totally pacifistic approach to war. When is a war justifiable? When it is not only morally acceptable but a moral imperative to go to war? Please point to examples throughout history where these situations have happened, if you can (though if you're prepared to admit that there has been no justifiable war that you're aware of, I suppose that's fine if bitter).

      20 votes
    7. Against Meritocracy

      I always thought that meritocracy seemed like such a loosely defined idea that people still always defended and in this article I just wrote I hoped to tear it apart. It is a core idea of our...

      I always thought that meritocracy seemed like such a loosely defined idea that people still always defended and in this article I just wrote I hoped to tear it apart. It is a core idea of our zeitgeist but it is so weak philosophically. https://diogenesoftoronto.wordpress.com/2018/06/13/against-meritocracy/

      7 votes
    8. Who’s who after a brain transplant? Where does identity reside?

      Let’s imagine two women: Millie and Bonnie. Millie has a body-wasting disease. Her body is slowly breaking down, organ by organ. The only organ which is untouched is her brain. However, the body...

      Let’s imagine two women: Millie and Bonnie.

      Millie has a body-wasting disease. Her body is slowly breaking down, organ by organ. The only organ which is untouched is her brain. However, the body that supports that brain is deteriorating, and she is near to dying.

      Bonnie is a healthy person who suffers an unfortunate accident. She takes a sharp blow to her head which damages her brain, killing her instantly, but leaving her body intact and healthy.

      Due to the magic of non-existent futuristic medical technologies, doctors transplant Millie’s brain into Bonnie’s body.

      Who is the resulting person? Who is walking around? Is it Millie because it’s her mind, or is it Bonnie because it’s her body? Or is it someone else?

      For legal purposes, we identify a person by their physical attributes: fingerprints, retinal patterns, dental history, face. According to that methodology, this person is Bonnie, because she has Bonnie’s physical attributes. If she used Bonnie’s passport, she would be able to travel because her face and fingerprints match the photo and fingerprints in the passport. She would be accepted as Bonnie.

      However, this person does not have any of Bonnie’s knowledge or memories. She remembers Millie’s life and friends and education. If we asked her to sit an academic exam about a topic that Bonnie learned, she would fail, but she would pass an exam about a topic that Millie learned; she is therefore entitled to use Millie’s academic qualifications as her own. Her encephalograph would show Millie’s brain patterns. She would recognise Millie’s family and friends.

      If Millie and Bonnie each committed a crime before the transplant, should the post-transplant person be held responsible for either crime, or both, or neither? If she was in court, a witness would identify her as Bonnie, who was at the scene of one of the crimes. However, she would not remember committing Bonnie’s crime, but would remember Millie’s crime. Can she be held responsible for a crime she doesn’t remember committing (that brain is now dead)? Can she be held responsible for a crime noone saw her commit (that body is now dead)?

      So… who is she? Is she Millie or Bonnie, or is is she some new composite person: Minnie?


      Partly inspired by a couple of science fiction works:

      • 'I Will Fear No Evil', by Robert A Heinlein

      • The Star Trek DS9 episode 'Dax', by Peter Allan Fields and D.C. Fontana

      18 votes
    9. Anyone want to talk philosophy?

      Based on a post I saw asking for a ~philosophy group, it seems like there are at least a few people looking for some discussion like this. Does anyone want to talk about some concept that's been...

      Based on a post I saw asking for a ~philosophy group, it seems like there are at least a few people looking for some discussion like this. Does anyone want to talk about some concept that's been on their mind for a while?

      If you do, go ahead and throw it down in the comments. It'd be great if we could get a couple of nice discussions going!

      31 votes