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I'll use your format as I appreciate that it must be hard to read mine when the messages get so long. Apologies for the week delay, I have no free time presently (and it might get worse...).
I think the primary issue is that I draw a distinction between subjective and relative.
While subjective would fit too (relative to a subject), I appreciate that it does make sense to distinguish between relative to a subject and "made up" by a subject.
I recognize that things can be objectively important/significant to someone else, but not to me.
I do too. Does the fact that something objectively matters relative to someone matter? How would you describe something which has consequences that are significant? You seem to lack a word to describe this.
I do not recognize any situation wherein a thing can be important or significant to no one at all. You haven’t articulated a circumstance wherein it is possible.
I appreciate that an interaction with consciousness is necessary for things to have significant consequences, as I've said before. You would appear to be saying that "it doesn't matter that it matters to someone else". I believe this is is because you don't have a way of describing the fact that things can have significant consequences.
What makes any effect significant is perspective. A molecular bond is significant from an atomic perspective, but insignificant from an astronomical perspective, and perhaps vice verse. All effects are significant from some perspective, though not all
You began explaining "A star implosion can be a significant event in the lifeless cosmos around it." To which I asked "what's the difference between a significant effect and a regular effect?" I don't understand your explanation here. How is a molecular bond significant from an atomic perspective? What is the definition of significance that you're using here?
Killing and stealing reduces your chances of long term survival because people go to great lengths to insure you cannot get away with it.
I disagree, if you are in the ruling class (particularly historically), you can get away with a good amount of evil before the backlash you receive threatens you. I'm not denying that there are two sides to such behavior, however the reward can certainly outweigh the risk. For example, if you had a relatively small (compared to citizens) number of slaves in a country the risk of repercussions would be minuscule and would be outweighed by the reward. Ancient China, Rome, Egypt etc. are good examples of this. We could also say the same for invading small states as a larger state.
Do you think life is better in the presence of organized crime? Of course not.
Agreed for the non-criminals.
Do you think life is better in the presence of organized crime? Of course not. Life isn’t better for any involved, including the criminals.
How so? Often criminals are poor and unskilled and only able to thrive through their activities, in many cases they rely on crime for survival too.
Your hand (like your consciousness) is factually, objectively important to you.
Only because of it's impact on your consciousness, if you weren't conscious, or if it didn't impact your consciousness at all, it would hold no importance. If the person was not conscious but still had a brain, they would think "this hand is important to me" but it wouldn't actually be important because it would not impact a consciousness.
It is not factually objectively important to unknown-person in unknown-place whose death you still have not grieved, illustrating my point. Though everything draws importance from an impact on consciousness, not all things that impact a particular consciousness are important to all consciousness... Neither is your consciousness significant to unknown-person. Your consciousness is removed from the equation of their consciousness...Not significant to the nobody of consciousness itself...When I say you cannot value the conscious experience of a being completely unknown to and unaffecting you, I mean it is unimportant to you....
You keep making this point, but I never disputed it. I 100% agree. Once again I would say that you don't seem to have a way to describe the fact that things can have significant consequences. This would imply that ultimately nothing matters.
Do you believe that sunlight is insignificant to a tree? Is it unimportant?
Important for the tree's survival, sure. How would it be significant to the tree though? If the tree isn't conscious why would it matter that the tree survives?
Things are significant to life. Things are important to life.
How so? I believe that it is consciousness, not life, that makes things significant. I can appreciate that things can be important to life's survival, but life's survival doesn't matter unless it's conscious, or ultimately has some impact on consciousness.
Nothing is important to a rock.
Things can be important to the existence of a rock as a rock though, for instance it's important, for the rock to continue to be a rock, that you do not grind it into sand.
Yes the ruling classes. Everyone lives better today, including the ruling classes. Middle class people of today live better than the ruling classes of the middle ages.
Because of technological advancement. While I believe that technological advancement has been in part because of liberalism, it's also been due to the removal of religious barriers to scientific progress, the scientific method etc. Moreover, accretion of money, knowledge, power etc. accelerates as one gains more of it. This is because the existing money/knowledge/power etc. can be used to accumulate even more money/knowledge/power etc. I can explain this in more detail but I believe you are already aware of this fact.
It is not in your best interest to get away with being a tyrant.
Since granting greater freedoms to citizens appears to drive progress, I can actually agree with this. The reason I bring up tyranny is because it's something I would consider immoral, but you're right, when looking at things in the very long term it's better to be libertarian. I don't see why you couldn't make a segment of the population slaves and retain the benefits of liberal democracy while gaining the benefits of slavery, though (like the early USA). Alternatively, you could kill all the mentally ill people that can't contribute to society.
I either die by not breathing anymore, or I die by not being who I thought I was in a world that the new me made torturous to live in... Dying well is sometimes the epitome of thriving
Evolutionarily speaking, this isn't the case, isn't your morality evolutionarily based? Naturally you are driven to preserve yourself and family at all costs, which is why it's so difficult to commit suicide.
particularly when the alternative is dying torturously with the same outcome slightly delayed.
If that's actually the case then sure, but how do you know if it's the case? I'm not so sure that people are that likely to commit suicide as a result of committing evil acts. For one thing it's incredibly evolutionarily maladaptive.
given we are social animals, your genetic line is best served when protected by the social circle whose good will you have engendered with your courageous act.
If you're certain that this is the case then sure, however many good deeds and noble sacrifices see no reward. Sometimes, in fact, they garner punishment. Malevolent societies may view your sacrifice for your friend as negative, for instance if the friend was a Kulak in communist Russia. In this case, sacrificing yourself for your friend would negatively effect your family.
It is not in your long term interests to live in misery and ultimately commit suicide because you have done something awful that appeared to be in your short term interests.
Generally speaking, it is in your long term evolutionary interests not to die, at almost any cost. There needs to be substantial benefit to your family for it to make evolutionary sense (in no small part because you can provide them benefits yourself when alive). As for in your interests relative to your conscious experience I'd certainly agree.
It is rather more in your interests to live happy right up to the end where you die well.
Not evolutionarily speaking.
You cannot know the quality of any consciousness but your own.
Not with 100�curacy, however we could with complete information. To be clear, I'm defining what the most moral result (preferable state) is here, rather than the ethic (how to act to achieve the result).
You cannot know the nature of another’s experience.
You can to a good degree of accuracy with empathy. The same as our other senses, we never get a 100�curate representation of what we are sensing but it is good enough. Further, we can simply ask them, as they know it.
If you were asked to kill your child to save the lives of 2 wealthy, kind hearted philanthropists who are unknown to you, would you do it?
No, because I don't know how things play out in the case that I kill my child or let the two philanthropists live. Since I have no clue what effect my actions would have and have no way to compare the potential results, I do not commit a proximate evil in service of an ultimate good, because I don't even know that there will be an ultimate good. As I said before, committing proximately evil acts in service of an ultimate good is something that must be done with great care (if at all!), because for all you know you may not even achieve the ultimate good you were striving for, making things worse in the process. If I knew for certain (impossible) that killing my child would make the universe a vastly better place for the rest of time then yes, I'd do it. Of course, I'd never be able to attain anything close to such certainty, however. For the most part, people who commit proximately evil acts in service of an ultimate good are narcissistically vastly overestimating their ability to model the infinitely complex reality that we live in.
some virtues call for one’s death in certain circumstances. In such circumstances it is one’s interests to die.
I'm not sure that this entirely explains courage, in part because courage is more often used to risk death for reward, rather than to outright sacrifice oneself. I appreciate that it makes evolutionary sense to sacrifice oneself in some situations though.
It is important to the given consciousness in existence.
Yet without consciousness nothing has significant consequences; if consciousness ceased to exist everything else may as well cease to exist too.
There is no such thing as a consciousness that does not belong to an entity. This is another of our disagreements. When you say “consciousness itself” and you do not mean any individuals consciousness, I read “nobody’s consciousness”...There is no consciousness as such that belongs to no one in particular.
If I speak of gravity as a phenomenon, I do not need to be speaking of a particular gravitational field. If I speak of consciousness as a phenomenon, I also do not need to be speaking of a particular consciousness.
This choice is being made by a conscious entity.
When I ask "If we were to choose between allowing consciousness to continue to exist and removing consciousness entirely from reality, does the correct judgement rely on context?". I'm not trying to bring your consciousness into the equation, I'm simply trying to show you that a reality where consciousness exists is categorically better than a reality where consciousness doesn't exist. A universe without consciousness (or potential for future consciousness) may as well not exist.
The point I am making is that things only have significant consequence if they effect th consciousness of someone, and they are objectively important because of the significance to that someone.
So does it not matter that your suffering matters to you? Also, when you say "objectively important" you are speaking relative to the individual (or so I believe), whereas I am not. I believe that my previous paragraph shows why it is important that consciousness exists, without being relative to any individual.
Most of the ends of taxation cannot justify taxation itself.
If we didn't have taxation, we wouldn't have a professional police force or army. Are you arguing that having a police force and army is not a moral good?
Furthermore, if taxation is wrong, then we are doing it wrong (I expect we are).
Surely taking something by force from somebody else (that wasn't originally stolen) is a proximate evil?
If everyone assumed that means justify ends, then the only evils we would encounter would be those of honest error.
Well, there are the evils in-built into reality (e.g. natural disasters, predators, disease), and human selfishness and malevolence, which should not be underestimated. I do appreciate that people holding such beliefs often add to the suffering in the world though, as discussed before.
In order for it to work, everyone would have to have significantly reduced empathetic tendencies, which would result in a very non-humanistic outcome.
It would work regardless, people would simply object because they are empathetic, it wouldn't be less effective in removing sadists from society at large.
It’s not that animal suffering shouldn’t be a factor, it’s that it is a factor only because we evolved to feel this way, which is beneficial to us. Feeling this way is beneficial to humanity.
What evolutionary benefit is there to regarding animal suffering as significant?
I feel bad solely because of the fact that I am vicariously experiencing the mouse’s suffering.
Interesting, so the consequences for the mouse don't hold significance to you?
To demonstrate the truth of this, consider that the suffering of creatures that you are less able to empathize with elicits less of an emotional response, even though their suffering is still of significant consequence to them.
I'm aware of this but this is why I distinguish between how I feel and what I can rationally understand. I may have less of an emotional response, however I still anticipate that their suffering has similar consequences to mine.
Morality being a code of conduct, implicit or explicit
I'd say ethics are the codes of conduct for attaining moral result. What I've spoken of here I'd define as moral result (what ethics should strive to attain), not an ethic itself. Of course, we can use this information to inform our ethic, though.
Neither empathy, nor how we feel about information collected through empathy, is a sufficient foundation for morality.
It's not about how we feel about the data, it's the data itself. If humanity wasn't conscious and incapable of attaining consciousness, what purpose would there be to our survival? What would be the point?
The reason traits persist in an evolutionary process is because of the advantage they provide, whatever those advantages may be.
Not "the" advantage, but rather "an" advantage. Just like how adaptive traits, like depression, have disadvantages that are not the reason for their evolution, traits can also have advantages that are not the reason that they evolved.
Not the only reason, but the fundamental reason.
Other than in the interests if the self, what's the other reason to be good to others?
...It is not simply that self-interest, properly understood, is good, it is that self-interest is a fact.
I agree with this, however I am an altruist rather than an egoist for reasons I am sure you are by now all too familiar with.
But those others exist relative to my consciousness, which is my entire universe. I cannot regard the universe of your experience with the same value as the universe I inhabit, which is my ultimate value.
I don't disagree with what you're saying at all. However, one can detach themselves to an extent from their subjective (relative to the self) view of the world and see that, objectively speaking, your conscious experience is equally important to mine.
When people successfully deny the human self-interested nature, they can neither act to properly benefit their own experience nor that of others.
I agree if you mean in terms of acknowledging it and acting accordingly. I disagree if you mean by solely acting in one's self-interest. In ancient China, for example, often those who did the right thing (e.g. opposing a tyrant) had their entire family slaughtered. There is no way that such actions served their self-interest, understood from an evolutionary perspective.
"Right, but individuals aren't the cause of laws. It's the majority."
Actually, what makes western liberal democracies great is the fact that they deal with people as individuals, rather than as exemplars of an identity group.
"the majority of women are better at caring for children then men."
Sure, yet some men are better at caring for children than some women.
Equality under the law makes sense, but to expect equality of outcome is to lack an understanding of the biological differences between men and women. While many differences exist, one that is particularly important is the fact that, in general, males are more thing-oriented and women are more person-oriented (Source 1). Further, this difference is biological, not social, in nature (Source 2). This difference alone is sufficiently explanatory of why females are underrepresented in STEM fields and overrepresented in professions such as nursing and social care (Source 3).
"I think they need to fire her"
A professor shared a political opinion online, albeit at a poor time. Aside from the fact that public political figures are fair game for criticism, why is there a "need" for action?
"hiding behind her employer and using them as "validation by inaction""
This would entail that employers are responsible for every opinion their employees publicly share. Why would this be the case? Just because they won't fire her for her opinion doesn't mean that they hold that opinion.
I appreciate that the left is being hypocritical here and it makes sense to draw attention to this. However, if we hold that it is wrong when the right are fired for sharing their political opinions, we cannot persecute our political opponents in the same way.
To be clear, I'm going to first explain how I conceptualize significance, as it seems to be at the root of our disagreement regarding my moral philosophy. I acknowledge that this is my failure as I find this difficult to articulate. Things can be subjectively deemed significant, for example, you may regard the fact that a particular tarot card was revealed during a fortune reading as significant. The fact that a tarot card was revealed during the reading is not factually significant, however. The fact that the tarot card had such an effect on your consciousness is what holds significance.
"Once observed, we can discuss the significant effect the star had on the surrounding bodies without any knowledge of consciousness within those bodies."
In this context what's the difference between a significant effect and a regular effect? Why is the effect that the star had significant?
"You strike me as the kind of person who would see no moral impropriety with killing a person posing a threat to your survival."
Of course, in limited, direct cases (I wouldn't kill someone for polluting the air, for example). There is a major difference between someone posing a threat to my survival and killing someone to increase my chances of survival. For example, I could kill people in order to take their resources and hence give myself a better chance of survival (assuming I can get away with it).
"Murder, on the other hand, cannot increase one’s chances of survival due to the social nature of human beings and the response the murder elicits from other humans."
Only if you get caught. Organized criminals have procedures to dispose of bodies and so on.
"Using my distinction of terms, suffering not only has significant consequence, but it is important as well."
I'm glad we appear to agree here.
"My point is that your conscious experience, like your hand, holds importance to you, but not to everyone else."
I agree when speaking of subjective importance. When we speak of factual significance, however, everything draws it's significance from an impact on consciousness.
"To restate your sentence using “hands”, it says “Hands themselves are significant, as we are aware because of our own hands. As such, any effect on hands would also be significant.” This is incorrect."
I agree, hands are not significant when consciousness is removed from the equation.
"There is something more fundamental than your conscious experience, your metabolism."
I'm not arguing that conscious experience is fundamental, I'm stating that if we remove consciousness from the equation nothing has significance; if nothing interacts with consciousness then nothing has significance.
"All living things must have a metabolism. There would be no consciousness without it. Does this mean your conscious experience holds second-order significance?"
Life doesn't take any part in the equation of creating significance. Assuming that life is necessary for consciousness, it merely provides the conditions necessary for consciousness to emerge. Life's significance is also second-order significance because it's significance derives entirely from it's relationship with consciousness. The source of the significance isn't life, because life without consciousness has no significance.
"People actually thought this for most of human history, and humanity did not survive and thrive the way we do today."
This is true for humanity as a whole (not the ruling classes), yet our evolved morality puts oneself first, then family, then tribe, etc. I can appreciate that one is at least somewhat programmed to balance how much they benefit themselves with how much they benefit others, though.
"You can objectively know the value of a moral code by how well it allows people to survive and to thrive."
Do you mean objectively valuable to humans?
"If I have to kill my friend in order to live, then I will no longer be the person I was before I killed my friend. That person died with the killing. Nor would my existence be valuable to me knowing that my friend is not here because I am. Thus, it would be more reasonable to end my existence thriving in the knowledge that my friend can go on, rather than continuing my existence in misery as a person I no longer recognize."
I completely agree, however you're still transgressing your moral code as death is the opposite of surviving and thriving. The only way it makes evolutionary sense is if your friend was your child or the mother of your child (some other complex exceptions exist).
"Moral dilemmas are simply situations where individual moral considerations are pitted against social moral considerations, and the answers are often not clear cut."
I think I understand better what you're saying; that one must weigh up individual's interests against those of the group. Does the group's interests matter only insomuch as they affect the individual's interests? In other words, is the consideration of group interests entirely selfishly motivated?
"Does your moral code consider all individual human consciousness’s to be equally valuable as any other individual moral consciousness’s?"
The consciousness itself? Yes, however when we take into account the quality of life that the consciousness will experience and the effect it will have on other consciousnesses, we could differentiate between them.
"If so, then your moral code would demand you kill your kid to save two homeless strangers. An act my code would object to."
I wouldn't say that my moral code demands anything, though what it would prescribe as the best course of action would depend on situational factors such as those given in my previous paragraph. Generally I would expect that a child raised in a good home would have a more positive life than a homeless person (in addition to a longer life expectancy). I also would expect that they would have a more positive impact on other consciousnesses than a homeless person (who presumably is a burden on others). As such, I would say that killing my child to save two homeless people would be the wrong course of action. Note also that while I hold that "the ends justify the means" my moral code makes it incredibly clear that it is incredibly difficult to make such calculations correctly. For one thing, people making these moral calculations never factor in the chances that their scheme may fail and make things worse.
"Because of the many numerous people who got through without actively hunting innocent people."
Everybody had their own unique situations in Nazi Germany. However, I do think that you covered this point with the fact that balancing the needs of the group and individual is part of our evolved morality.
"there is a moral virtue known as courage... he is the kind of person who seems unfazed by continuing his existence as this kind of person."
How do these concepts of courage and actions which sully your existence fit into your moral code?
"No. I am not willing to speculate about what is important to reality itself."
Important to the structure of reality itself was what I meant, if that doesn't make sense under your definition then "it's of significant consequence" that consciousness exists.
"The universe brought about consciousness. But the universe also seemingly takes away each consciousness as well. Thus, I could just as easily argue that it is important to the reality itself that your experience be snuffed out."
Funnily enough, I think this may be true. Life's temporary nature makes it better.
"Yes. Am I allowing the consciousness of a murderer to continue as he kicks down my door? Or am I allowing random guy’s consciousness on the street to continue by not drinking and driving?"
I'm talking about consciousness itself here, not an individual consciousness when I ask "If we were to choose between allowing consciousness to continue to exist and removing consciousness entirely from reality, does the correct judgement rely on context?" Note also that I mean this particular reality.
"I would agree that human consciousness disappearing would be objectively significant to a number of living and non-living things that humans have an impact on."
How can it be significant to a non-living thing?
"The reason for this importance varies with the consciousness in question."
I don't think you understand the point I'm making here; that the effect on consciousness the chemo has is the reason for it's importance. Things only have significant consequence if they effect consciousness, and they are objectively important because they have significant consequence.
"Conscious experience has consequences that are significant to the conscious being having the experience."
Why are the consequences not merely significant? Is the fact that something is consciously experiencing not a significant event? You've said before that things can have a significant effect without the involvement of consciousness.
"We know from our own experience that our own conscious experience is important to ourselves."
I thought we were differentiating between importance and significance? I didn't mention importance in this paragraph.
"You must value your own conscious experience. You cannot possibly value the conscious experience of a being completely unknown and unaffecting you."
We're talking past each other here still. Things can be significant regardless of whether we acknowledge their significance, which you yourself seem to acknowledge as true.
"“The ends justify the means” is most often completely false and is often used by the more powerful of humanities villains to carry out the kinds of programs you suggest."
I mostly agree, as I was saying earlier. It is true, however, that the ends can justify the means, for example, in the case of taxation.
"But if our leaders are of the sort to carry out massive sadistic programs, and we allow it, what else might they attempt?"
I don't see the programs (sadists locked up torturing animals) as sadistic, the goal of sadism is willfully causing suffering for pleasure. The goal of such a program is a reduction in human suffering, albeit at a massive cost in animal suffering, as such it would be more apt to describe as "humanistic". Interestingly, it would probably actually work, too. I'd never condone it, though, because I believe that animal suffering is of significance.
"If it’s going to cure cancer, then that is the kind of aid to humans I am willing to accept."
As someone who has seen some of the horrors of animal experimentation, I'm completely unwilling to submit them to a living hell simply because I can imagine how terrible such an existence would be. This isn't to say that we shouldn't do experiments on animals, it's just that it must be done as humanely as possible while still producing useful data.
"If animal cruelty is indicative of a type of person that is detrimental for humanity, then human benefit stemming from cruelty must be sufficiently beneficial to outweigh the detriment posed by a cruel type of person."
Sure, I just think that the suffering of the animal should be a factor in the decision. Why wouldn't it be?
"Why is suffering bad?"
I acknowledge that suffering is at times necessary and/or beneficial. However, suffering is not always necessary and/or beneficial, and it is in these cases that suffering is bad. The experience of suffering is negative (as you are aware) and, when not providing any benefits, this is a bad thing. Why, in your view, is anything good or bad?
"Of course it does. I’m empathetic. I understand that the mouse is suffering and I feel bad."
Empathy is the ability to put yourself in another's position; it allows you to feel, through mirror neurons, what the mouse is feeling. Why does this make you feel bad? Is it solely because of the fact you are vicariously experiencing the mouse's suffering or because it allows you to understand that what is happening is having significant consequences?
"But emotions are not sufficient for morality. Empathizing with the suffering of others is not a sufficient foundation for morality because empathy itself is only one aspect of morality and is derived from the same evolutionary process that created other aspects of morality."
I don't believe that my moral philosophy is emotionally based, and I don't see how the use of empathy to collect data (a sense that, using mirror neurons, allows us to vicariously experience things) makes it so. Vicariously feeling what others are experiencing, as you earlier noted, can be used to harm others; it's simply a sense and not something that compels moral action (though the knowledge it provides may encourage it).
"Traits develop for the advantage they provide, whether the advantage is pleasant or otherwise."
Sure, all I'm saying is that some of the advantages provided may not be the reason the trait evolved. For example, empathy may have developed to help us to hurt others more effectively and helping us to cooperate may have been a coincidental secondary benefit (I'm not saying this is the case).
"This is a perfectly reasonable guiding principle when we live in a social world where others will respond to how we act toward them. Acting in a manner that others approve of is of paramount importance to your long term survival and well-being. Just because it doesn’t feel self serving doesn’t mean it isn’t."
Sure, treating others well does serve the self, and I'd even agree that most people are only good because they fear the consequences of being evil. However you seem to be putting forth the idea that the only reason to be good to others is in the interests of the self. I don't see how one can appreciate the significance of their own conscious experience while not appreciating the significance of the experience of others.
Yes, but only because I believe it is the right of a business owner to do business, or refuse to do business, with whomsoever they please for whatever reason. You know, the same way that you're free to be friends, or not be friends, with whoever you want for whatever reason.
If it's acceptable to refuse men in general due to fears of violence then it also should be acceptable to refuse black men over fears of violence. I don't agree with taking either action, but if one is OK why is the other not?
I wouldn't say that incendiary weapons such as Napalm "just kill" (Source 1). I can appreciate that differing levels of suffering are caused by different weaponry, it just seems that napalm, for example, is among the worst of the worst weapons. An even worse example (though this is arguably a chemical weapon, it isn't classified as such) would be another incendiary weapon; white phosphorous.
A one world government and the homogeneity of governance that necessarily follows is a terrible idea for a myriad of reasons. While it seems a laudable goal, this perception is the product of shallow, optimistic analysis. The main reason people think it is a good idea is because it would, in theory, mean that wars were not possible. Obviously, however, this isn't the case. Civil wars and insurgencies have the same results as wars between nations: death and destruction.
In addition, imagine if the world government became malevolent. As it stands, if our nation of residence is becoming oppressive we can flee elsewhere. Under a one world government, however, where could one flee to escape it's totalitarian clutches? Further, what force could oppose a malevolent world government? When Adolf Hitler set his sights on world domination it was only other nations that could stop him. Those within his empire had no such ability and even the French resistance required outside aid. The French resistance also only existed due to the fact that the French army wasn't entirely militarily crushed because they were conquered so quickly by the German Blitzkrieg. If there is a malevolent one world government, there will be no force that can oppose it and emerge victorious.
Further, one must think of the manner in which we have progressed as societies in the past. Different nations try different methods of rule and we can compare these to inform our manner of governance. One might find, for example, that giving one's citizenry greater freedoms results in greater productivity. This is a big reason why nations grant freedoms to it's citizens; in the interests of what is pragmatic, rather than in the interests of morality. Different nations and empires each found different methods of progression at different times and intentionally or unintentionally shared these. For one example, the renaissance is at least partially creditable to the manner in which the Medici ruled Florence, including their patronage of artists, inventors and other polymaths.
Finally, one must think about the ability to be represented by one's government and it's accountability to it's citizens. When one is governed on a smaller scale, one can be greater represented by their government. This is both because one makes up a larger percentage of the voting population and because different issues have different importance to people living in different areas. This is demonstrated by, for example, the cities of the U.S. being more left leaning while the countryside is more right leaning (Source 1). These contrasts are magnified when one considers the political and ideological differences between nations. Moreover, under diversity of governance, one may be able to choose between several available options which government they prefer. It is also an immediately apparent fact that a government is more accountable to it's citizens when it is more local. A multinational government based in Brussels, for example, has less reason to be afraid of unrest in London than unrest in Brussels. Moreover, it is easily demonstrated that at larger numbers accountability and representation is reduced. If one has 100 citizens and one ruler, it merely takes ten outspoken citizens for a problem or concern to be made apparent. If one has one million citizens, however, it takes one hundred thousand protestors to have the same effect.
Removal of a stable regime leads to chaos in the area, which is exactly what groups like ISIS need to thrive. ISIS are not "finished" though they are falling.
"If Assad's "opposition" gets control THEY will fight ISIS .. hopefully with U.S. and others help."
Assad's opposition are not homogeneous, they are lots of different groups, with different ideologies etc. This includes in no small part ISIS and similar radical jihadist groups, not just secular rebels.
"Funny, the State Department and DED says there IS evidence that Assad (and the Russians) used chemical weapons."
What evidence? How would they know? Further, note that similar statements were made about Saddam and later found to be deliberate lies.
"Do you have reliable info otherwise??"
Let's go back to the 2013 sarin gas attack that was blamed on Assad, it recently came out that there was no evidence Assad was responsible (Source 1). In fact, one of the UN reps leading the inquiry into the attack claimed there was evidence the rebels were responsible (Source 2).
"Russia has its own problems with ISIS, so why would they do something that benefits them?"
What has Russia done that benefited ISIS?
"Assad wants rid of "opposition". The civil war may be won, but there is STILL opposition, and he wants rid of it as quickly (and completely), as possible."
Douma was the last bastion of resistance after the rest of Ghouta surrendered (Source 3). Does it make sense that in fighting the last rebel stronghold, you take an action guaranteed to bring western intervention? The chemical weapons attack wasn't even that effective; it killed under a hundred people. It simply makes no strategical sense.
"Putin and Assad have a long term plan and Putin is smart enough to have planned THIS."
How does giving their ISIS and rebel enemies powerful western allies help Putin and Assad? The war was practically over, with Assad well on his way to gaining complete ascendancy over Syria.
Does it make sense that Assad would use chemical weapons at a time when he had all but won the war? Doing so was guaranteed to make the western powers get involved again. ISIS and the rebels benefited most from the attack and so, if we are to make accusations without evidence, it makes more sense to accuse the beneficiaries of the attack.
There is no evidence that Assad used chemical weapons. Further, it simply makes no sense that Assad would do this when the civil war was already won and doing so would bring western intervention.
If we ask who benefits from the chemical attack, the answer is ISIS, the rebels and the western powers that want regime change in Syria. As such, it makes more sense, lacking evidence, to believe that one of the beneficiaries were responsible.
Though relative to an individual is one definition of subjective, I appreciate the distinction, and it helps my understanding of what you're saying. My issue is that I see not how you would describe the fact that an effect on consciousness has significant consequence.
"Significant: Having a great effect. This applies to both the sentient and non-sentient. To the living and the non-living. A star implosion can be a significant event in the lifeless cosmos around it. A death can be a significant event in the living social circle of the deceased."
How can it be significant if it doesn't affect consciousness? As far as I can see, things only can be significant if they have an effect on consciousness. How/why does a star's implosion have significance?
"Morality evolved (like anything else) because it aids the moral agent in survival. To survive well is to thrive. We can know things to be relatively morally correct by how well they serve the function for which morality evolved, survive and thrive."
Your definition of morality differs here from mine. I'd agree that it is prescriptive of how to act, however when morality is reduced to survival I have no reason not to kill you if it increases my chances of survival.
"Nothing matters outside the framework in which mattering is possible."
We should make distinctions between words to make this easier to discuss, as you have done. The issue is that when I say "matters" I mean the definition "to be of consequence, importance or significance" (Source 1,2). You seem to be using "matters" to mean your definition of importance here, when I am talking about your definition of significance.
"If the universe had never existed, it would not matter... it is more accurate to ask if it matters if the universe goes out of existence."
It's of significant consequence whether the universe exists or not, and I think if we use the same definitions we agree here. If the universe appeared from nothing, or disappeared into nothing I would view these events as of significant consequence.
"Significance is relative."
How would you describe the fact that the suffering of conscious entities has significant consequence?
"Say your statement using “hands” in place of “conscious experience”."
Our hands only hold second-order significance as a result of their relationship to our conscious experience. In other words, our hands only have significance because they have an effect on our conscious experience.
"My moral code is concerned with surviving and thriving."
I don't feel that you've answered my question here, though your answer would appear to be "yes, you should do whatever is necessary for you to survive and thrive". This means that as long as what you do is best for you, it is moral (sounds very much like Randian objectivism). As such, as long as I can get away with it, it's perfectly moral for me to disarm the U.S. citizenry and install myself as dictator for life.
"Depending on the kind of person you are, you my feel it is worth dying before acting in despicable ways, since such action would irreversibly eliminate who you are anyway."
Yet wouldn't such a choice be against your moral code?
"It is not clear that clear cut moral judgments can be made concerning unique and desperate situations."
I would have thought, under your definition, that whatever helped you most to survive and thrive would be most moral. My moral code can make clear cut judgements if it has complete information (which of course we never have).
"Was it truly necessary in order to stay alive? It doesn’t seem likely."
Why is that? In any case, it was certainly necessary for him to thrive.
"But our daily lives are not in a life boat or Nazi Germany. Moral codes are meant for guiding daily life and common scenarios."
Personally, I think that these are the most important moral situations. If people in Nazi Germany stood up for what was right, rather than doing what was expedient, things could have been very different. It's the same with social justice today, the majority don't believe in it (it's split the left), yet most people won't speak against it because doing so is against their self-interest.
"I know you think that things can still be important even if they are important to no one at all, but it just isn’t so."
I don't see how it wouldn't be important that consciousness exists. Without consciousness, nothing would be of significant consequence. Note that important here is a close synonym to significant. Perhaps if I said it was important to reality itself then we would agree?
"This isn’t to say that objective truth does not exist on such matters, but only that the objectively correct judgment varies with context."
If we were to choose between allowing consciousness to continue to exist and removing consciousness entirely from reality, does the correct judgement rely on context?
I assume you mean only objectively significant to humans?
"An event can take place that has an effect on many non-living, non-conscious things while still being significant insofar as there was a substantial effect. But it is only to living things that a significant event can be important."
This sounds like statistical significance, though "substantial" is undefined and entirely subjective. Note that important and significant are synonyms (though they can have differences in meaning).
"If you have to take have to take chemo to stay alive, that is objectively important to you. Since you need it, and it could kill me, the objective truth of the matter varies depending on the context."
The objective truth of the matter would be that it's important for the person with cancer to have chemo and important that the person who doesn't need chemo doesn't have it. The reason for this importance is because of the effect it has on consciousness.
"Human consciousness is more important to humans than to ants. Ant consciousness is more important to ants than to humans. They are not wrong and neither are we. We are both objectively correct as the value of my consciousness is in and of itself, just like theirs."
Conscious experience has consequences that are of significance, as we know from our own experience. It's like how we assume other people are conscious because we are conscious, we can tell that suffering is of significant consequence because we have felt those consequences ourselves. This is the most important thing to understand and where I think we are talking past each other.
"When someone says that capitalism has had a positive impact on humanity as a whole, it is assumed that you are referring to people that it has had an impact on at all."
I was trying to explain the aggregate effect of a stimulus on a group, in this case, consciousness. When I asked you to rephrase "capitalism has had a positive impact on humanity as a whole" I meant that capitalism has, on average, had a positive effect on humans. Actions can, on average, have a positive effect on consciousness, was what I meant when I said "a positive impact on consciousness as a whole".
"I would not support such a measure as it neglects the sadism of those who maintain such a program."
Why must the organizers be sadists? They can be operating from the idea that doing so will benefit humanity.
"I believe there are appropriate circumstances for animal testing and it should not be banned in all cases for all things. "
I'm asking why there should be any restrictions on animal testing if the results might help humans. There are extensive ethical guidelines for animal research at present and many studies are deemed unethical (despite offering benefits). Your moral code should, in my perspective, desire to lift all restrictions on animal testing that would provide any benefit to humanity.
"The first sentence is not sufficient if you want to make decisions on more than just emotion. Emotions feel just as strong even when not driven by reason."
It's not a decision based on emotion, it's based on an understanding of what it is like to suffer; the significant consequences. Does your reaction to a cat torturing a mouse really have nothing to do with your understanding of the mouse's suffering?
"Suffering is not an evil in all cases. Suffering and the potential to suffer is essential."
100% agreed, I believe that suffering is essential to reality itself and have written about that at length (can find and link it if interested). I also made the case for exceptions where suffering is actually a good thing in the debate where I initially wrote of this idea of morality. For example, the negative experience of being forced to study at school grants a greater quality of life in the long term. My view of morality is concerned with the long term, not merely the proximate effects, of our actions. An overview is available here, that you seemingly at least partially agreed with (Source 3).
"Empathy is one reason we can act strategically in warfare or push the right buttons in an interrogation. Empathy is a tool of saints and torturers alike."
I agree, but just because we can use our understanding of how someone else is feeling in a negative way does not mean that we should, or that it's why it developed. Most people explain their moral behavior in the way I am alluding to "I would not like it if it were done to me". While this does not by any means make me correct (in part because most people are only moral because they are forced to be), it gives credence to the idea that empathy is a major factor in why we treat others well. This is also why advertisements for charities show pictures of half-dead children or animals (charity-specific) to motivate altruistic action.
"Hey WinstonC Why do you disagree with it?
My opinion is It should be legal only when there's a pregnancy complication but should not be a choice for parents because we value human zygote for we came from it."
For one, because those having abortions are disproportionately likely to be poor and/or single mothers who cannot provide a good environment for the child to grow up in. Both single motherhood and poverty are associated with poor outcomes for the child, including increased criminality later in life (Source 1). As such, painlessly killing the embryo early appears to me the lesser of two evils.
What do you mean by conservative philosophy? If we're talking the actual roots of conservative philosophy then I don't see how. The basic underlying philosophy of conservatism is to not change complex systems too quickly in order to mitigate the risk that such changes may break the system. Conservatism is concerned with preserving the stability and merit of the existing system; it is concerned with preventing devolution into a worse state.
Progressives are inclined to see change as promising, while conservatives are inclined to see change as threatening. Both perspectives hold truth, because change means moving to a different state; one that is either better or worse than the previous one.
It's highly unlikely that you understand your nutritional needs and the accompanying micro and macro nutrient deficiencies that you already have. Making radical changes to your diet is incredibly likely to worsen your existing nutrient deficiencies which will negatively impact your health. For but one macro-nutrient example, if you are a physically active male, it will be incredibly difficult for you to get enough protein, unless you resort to hormone disrupting soy (which also isn't balanced in terms of amino acid profile). For a micro-nutrient example, the lack of heme-iron in the diet may make you anaemic. Heme-iron (from meat) is easy to absorb and even helps us to digest iron from plant sources. While many vegan foods are rich in iron, non-heme iron is incredibly difficult to digest unless accompanied by heme-iron.
If you are considering a vegan diet, you should either do extensive reading or employ a nutritionist, because it is difficult enough to meet your needs on a regular diet (and you doubtlessly already have nutritional deficiencies).
"Let's lower the days since heart starts to beat at 21 days after conception"
The heart doesn't start to beat at 3 weeks; it's still a mere blastocyst.
"and abortionist shouldn't be the cause of why the fetus' heart will not beat."
This sounds a lot like an argument for abortion to be illegal from day one, which I disagree with.
Yes, but only until around 3-4 months (12-16wks), when the foetus is exhibiting voluntary movement, a heart beat, brain signals, reactions to stimuli and more (Source 1). To claim that a 3 month old baby is merely a bundle of cells is only correct insofar as fully developed humans can also be described as bundles of cells.
"expanding law enforcement stop-and-search powers so that police may stop anyone they believe to be a threat or planning a knife or acid attack."
In other words, "the police may stop and search anyone". As per usual, the people trying to remove all suffering and evil from the world fail, and end up adding to the suffering and evil in the world. This is not to say that people shouldn't try to reduce the evil and suffering in the world, however one must accept a small level of it, because an authoritarian government is much worse than a gang-violence problem.
"If there was no consciousness at all, who would it matter too?"
Once again, I don't hold that things have to matter to something in order to matter. As I said before, whether consciousness exists or not objectively matters. Do you believe that objectively nothing matters and if so, why do anything? To answer my own question, it is because conscious experience itself matters. You might say "it only matters to me", but why does it matter to you?
Because conscious experience objectively matters. It is of significant consequence.
"Importance is a conscious notion for conscious beings. Consciousness in the universe is important to me, and presumably conscious beings in general. But nothing can be important to no one in particular."
Does this not mean that objectively it doesn't matter at all whether the universe exists or not?
"Yes. We appreciate it because we know for ourselves what it is to suffer, and we can imagine someone else’s suffering being our own."
Because suffering is a significant event.
"But if unknown person dies from unknown issue in unknown location without affecting you in the slightest, you cannot say you ever valued unknown persons life."
"You can only say you value life in general and as such, you can see importance in unknown persons situation, but only after hearing about it (thus being affected by it)."
Later you distinguish between importance and significance and so I will use the word significance from now on for clarity. The suffering of the person has significance whether I acknowledge it or not, or to rephrase, it is of significant consequence. My, or anyone's subjective judgement of the significance of something has nothing to do with it's actual significance.
"Things can be significant in a lifeless, conscious-less universe insofar as they can have a great affect."
Please elaborate, I think that this train of thought may lead us to agreement.
"Significance is not the same as meaning or importance..."
Let's drop the word importance and focus on significance, as it is the word I also prefer. In the past I've insisted on using the word "significance" to avoid confusion over what I mean.
"If this question could be made meaningful, how can you say this is significant to no one in particular?"
Conscious experience itself is significant, as we are aware by our own conscious experience. As such, any effect on conscious experience would also be significant.
"It does not have to matter to me if they die for it to objectively matter in fact. Those people do not want to suffer and die. It matters to them. That’s an objective fact. It objectively matters."
This is exactly the point I'm making, conscious experience itself is significant, it isn't just the creator of significance. Conscious experience objectively matters.
"this difference wouldn’t matter as there would be no one for it to be important to. In only matters from the perspective of a conscious being."
In my view being objectively significant and objectively mattering are the same thing, are you speaking of subjectively mattering here?
"...You can not argue for the importance to them without arguing for some kind of effect."
You distinguished between importance and significance earlier, and I'm fine to make the distinction, but then why are you replying to my statements about significance with statements about importance?
"If there was no consciousness, the universe would be significantly different. But this difference wouldn’t matter as there would be no one for it to be important to."
This conflicts with "Consciousness does not generate significance, and its existence is significant". I think our wires are getting crossed due to the fact that things can subjectively matter, just like they can be subjectively significant. I don't hold this to be true because the experience of being conscious itself is significant.
"When a star implodes so far away that it has no observable affects, it is significant, but it’s not important to anyone on this planet... You still haven’t mourned the loss of unknown person. "
I only mentioned significance and not importance in this paragraph. You're speaking of subjective valuations, and I agree about those, still I hold that things can be objectively significant (which you seem to agree with to some degree). I appreciate that this is my fault as I used the word importance a couple of times, albeit to state that it was important because it was significant.
"There’s a popular misconception that you cannot derive am ought from an is. This isn’t true."
"Some moral constructs, values, acts etc actually assist us in surviving and thriving. Some actually don’t."
Is your moral code solely concerned with survival, and if so, does this mean that if I should do whatever is necessary for my survival? Does this mean that when George Soros was rounding up fellow Jews in Nazi Germany he was morally justified because it allowed him to survive and thrive? We are, after all, biologically wired to prefer ourselves over our species.
"Human consciousness is important in and of itself, not necessarily beyond itself. It is not important in and of ant consciousness, which is important in and of itself..."
It feels like we're talking about different things here (I was talking about judging the difference between a chimp's consciousness and a human's), but maybe I just don't understand?
"In the case of consciousness, if you took away all human consciousness, it would only be important to those creatures whose conscious experience was significantly affected by the existence of human consciousness (positive or negative)."
You'd agree that human consciousness disappearing would be objectively significant, though? Do you hold that things can be significant without the involvement of consciousness and if so how?
"that importance would be based on their own valuation of their own (and their kind’s) conscious experience as more important than others, which it is (in and of itself)."
Subjectively more important? I personally think that if something is objectively significant or objectively matters, that it is, as a result, objectively important.
"The only way to affect the whole is to affect each and every. There is no such thing as consciousness as a whole if it is not the total of the consciousness of each."
How would you describe the aggregate effect of a stimulus on a group? How would you rephrase, for example, "capitalism has had a positive impact on humanity as a whole"?
"If torturous people were no risk to humans, then we wouldn’t be humans as we are today, which is the kind that is troubled by torturous humans."
We could get sadists off the streets by allowing them to be voluntarily imprisoned in exchange for being allowed to torture animals all day. This would reduce the number of intensely sadistic people in society which would theoretically decrease the amount of humans harmed by them. Assuming that it worked (and I see not why it wouldn't work), would you support such a measure? Further, would you support the blanket removal of restrictions on animal testing/experimentation?
"As a person, I’m disturbed by the torturous cat who toys with the poor little mouse."
Does this have anything to do with the suffering of the mouse?
"Right, because we don’t want those animals to suffer. Because if we were ok with making animals suffer we would be detrimental to our kind."
Why is the first sentence not sufficient reason? I am aware that suffering is horrible, and thus I want to prevent suffering.
"People often do not reflect on the psychological and evolutionary foundations for what their emotions tell them. It doesn’t mean those foundations are not there."
I don't see how awareness of the negativity of suffering is not sufficient reason to want to alleviate it. If we speak of the underpinning foundations of morality, is it not possible that subconsciously this awareness of the horror of suffering is part of why we are moral? Perhaps this is part of why we evolved empathy.
"You wouldn’t be so callous toward your fellow living organisms if they were sufficiently like you enough to be conscious. Even with conscious creatures, their value to you is scaled by their similarity to you. Flies have a brain, they are necessary for our health and well-being, and are rarely detrimental beyond being an annoyance. But we swat them all day."
I certainly agree with this for most people. I, however, make every effort to spare the lives of flies, catching them and releasing them (virtue signal activated). I sometimes kill mosquitoes as they pose me harm, but even then I feel guilty.
"If nothing in the universe had meaning or significance, then it would matter specifically to no one at all."
To be clear, does this mean that you hold that it doesn't matter whether consciousness exists? While conscious entities are necessary for significance, I hold that this is because without consciousness nothing is significant. Is it not of importance that the universe contains consciousness?
"It’s importance is relative to itself."
Yet we can appreciate that the suffering of others is of significance without it being significant to us.
"Anything that is valuable, is valuable to something or someone... While a thing can be objectively valuable (valuable regardless of ones opinion), it cannot be valuable to no one in particular. A thing cannot be valuable to someone who is not affected in any way."
Perhaps, but value and significance are different. I only used the word value once in my original post, as a synonym for judge. Things certainly can be significant to no one in particular, or if you prefer to consciousness as a whole, for example it is significant whether reality is skewed more towards suffering or pleasure.
"To someone. To the entity itself. Not to me."
So objectively speaking does it not matter if people suffer and die?
"Conscious experience creates conscious experience. It is not significant beyond itself. Is water wet?"
The generation of significance and meaning is not significant? I don't understand how? Is water wet? It depends on the definition of wet.
"Because I’m human. If I were an ant, ant life would be more important to me."
My reasoning for why I value human life is that whether the human is consciously experiencing or not is significant.
"Yes. Because you’re human. The whole process of life and evolution, the conscious world itself, relies on a natural calculus wherein species advance to ever more complex states of experience through a process of effort directed to the benefit of themselves and their kind as their nature dictates."
This explains why we have this view: evolutionary biological drives, but it doesn't explain whether the view is morally correct to hold.
"In and of itself is the only way in which a human conscious experience is more important."
I don't understand. When I was saying in and of itself, I was talking about if we were to take away reasons we might judge that a human's consciousness more important, such as the effect they have on the wider world.
"Better outcome for whom?"
I said: "for conscious entities as a whole".
"The kind of person who tortured animals is the kind of person who will act detrimentally to his fellow humans, if his behavior is left unchecked."
This is likely, but does this mean that you'd be perfectly fine with letting people torture animals as long as there was no risk to humans? Perhaps allowing such sadists to pay to lose their freedom permanently in exchange for being allowed to torture animals all day? Further, criminal animal neglect (not abuse, a separate crime) is a crime (Source 1), and the reason given by the government for such laws is along the lines of prevention of suffering.
"But while we condemn the cruel simpleton who bashed puppies with a bat, we happily clean our counters, sending countless microorganisms to their chemical death."
We have no reason to believe that microorganisms are conscious, though they may well be. We believe a brain is necessary for consciousness, for example, though this may not be true. Animals appear conscious in every way that we can test (consciousness of course is not testable).
"I just think the young should exercise more patience, and thus wisdom/maturity before asserting their views strongly--which I encourage; when they are a bit older (i.e. do not rush into it) "
Agreed, though when I was 18 I was doing the same thing. Also, while I council moderation, young political activists (including myself in the past) are anything but moderate.
"rushing into deep waters before they have fully mastered 'basic swimming techniques' proves damaging--longer term."
Agreed, especially in terms of ego and narcissism, it also can destroy their reputation if they attempt to do more activism later.
"One (significant) problem is, there simply are not that many reasonably strong people to discuss such issues (at least, who have went public)--so when more qualified 'Jedi' see them about, they are generally just happy to see others 'joining the fight'--and thus, do not 'put them in their place', which may actually be much more helpful."
I agree, though I do see this criticism happen to some extent, the problem is that when the criticism is made publicly it comes across as "punching down".
"All valuations (measures of importance) are relevant to self-interest. A monkey cannot be considered important without someone for it to be important to."
I disagree, I don't see importance as only subjective, for example, if consciousness ceased to exist, I would view this as objectively important, because nothing in the universe would have any meaning/significance anymore. Nothing would matter at all because there would be no observers/experiencers. I also view conscious experience as objectively important/significant since one cannot change the significance of one's own experience. If you don't eat you will suffer and die and as such it is important that you eat (unless of course the alternative is worse). I laid out this logic in my moral nihilism debate where you appeared to agree with me. Perhaps a clearer example would be that it's objectively important whether reality is a heaven or a hell.
"People die all the time and it is no difference to me."
Of course, yet is the death of a conscious entity of significance? We know, after all, from our own experience, that conscious experience is of significance.
"...I value human life..."
Why do you value human life?
"Our laws are derived from moral logic and reasoning."
They are, yet because something is enshrined in law does not make it correct.
"If all murder was legal, which death would you be more concerned with, given you are equally familiar with both subjects?"
It would depend on many factors, including the suffering of the death, their expected quality of life if they survived, their effect on those around them and so on. I've personally mourned the death of pets I've had strong connections to with greater zeal than the deaths of relatives that I wasn't particularly connected to and for whom death was a mercy. An old man's death, when on his way out and living a life of suffering, is a gift. A young puppy's death, that would have enjoyed a good quality of life while enriching the lives of those around it, is a tragedy. If all factors were the same I might mourn the human more, I don't know, but would it be correct to? Why?
"As it is, I am personally equally unfamiliar with either the monkey or the person. As such the only matter of importance to me is how my society approaches the matter. Regardless of how an individual relates to either, the most important thing for me and everyone is that society values the human life above that of any given animal."
To you it's important to set a precedent that advantages humans? I can understand why you would, due to self interest, hold this position. I can't understand how in and of itself the conscious experience of a human is more important than the conscious experience of an animal though.
"I know some people who would rather watch a stranger die than suffer the death of their pet. That’s not important."
Sure, but the death of a stranger can be the better outcome of the two for conscious entities as a whole.
"What’s important (for human society) is that we don’t put any given pet, including a smart chimp, above any given person. This is appropriately reflected in our laws."
Why? Also we imprison people for animal abuse, which would be putting an animal before a human.
"Not all conscious life is equally important to me, a conscious life."
In your subjective estimation, or relevant to your self-interest.
"neither the chimp nor the person is important to me."
That's interesting, I remember you saying "I hold human life as my highest value. My life is my primary value. The recognition that others value their own the way I value mine produces in me a high valuation for all human life." in my highest value debate. How do you reconcile these positions?
"If I shot and killed the chimp, what crime would you charge me with? Now what if I shot and killed the person?"
I completely appreciate that the law treats these acts as immensely different, however this is an argument from law (ethos), rather than an argument from a factual or logical (logos) basis. If there was a law declaring that murder was OK, this would not be an argument that murder was in fact OK.
"cigarettes are affecting others as well"
When you used your computer to write this, fuel needed to be burned to provide the power. This caused pollution which affects others.
"those drugs are basically just killing them and it would be our humanity to help them"
Does the same apply to alcohol?
"Even drugs affect others in form of abuses."
If drug users abuse others then they will be arrested for the abuse they committed. The fact that they used drugs was not the problem, plenty of drug users don't abuse others. The same argument applies to alcohol, do you want alcohol to be illegal too?
"This also doesn't consider childrens in hourseholds where parents smoke indoors."
I believe it to be irresponsible to smoke in the same room as your children, and that people should be prevented from doing so (if this isn't already considered child endangerment).
"Smoking outside also allows people to be affected by second hand smoking, especially in crowded urban areas."
So does driving a car, lighting a fire, cooking, spraying deodorant or other sprays etc. You have no need to spray harmful aluminium fumes under your armpits and yet I respect your right to do so. Are you fine with all sprays being illegal and unnecessary fires being illegal? What about having your heating on too high or too long?
"And why is that?"
They also pollute the air.
"Cars perform a very essential function"
Aside from the fact that being able to travel quickly is not "essential", does this mean that anything not deemed essential that causes pollution should be illegal? I personally don't think it's essential for you to waste electricity debating online (this generates pollution).
" However, they are key differences between cars and cigarettes; we're still developing technologies to reduce emissions by cars, constantly."
So if cigarettes were being made safer (and additive free brands have recently appeared by the way) you would accept them despite the fact that they are still polluting the air? Why is that?
"They are a detriment and will remain a detriment."
Except to the person who enjoys smoking, I assume you also want smoking marijuana to be illegal?
There are a lot of things taught that don't need to be, and lots of things not taught that need to be. Times tables are useless, yet basic psychology and an understanding of power dynamics are essential for success, for example. Further, there are few acceptable physical outlets for male aggression and rough-and-tumble-play which is essential to healthy male development. Moreover, strict adherence to curricula mean that rote learning rather than functional understanding is the learning objective, which is the opposite of what would be useful. Finally, people are mostly taught what to think rather than how to think and are given little opportunity to critically evaluate the learning materials.
As long as they moderate their views and steel-man the opposition they will be fine. If they act as if they know everything and that anyone who disagrees is an idiot then they will create problems for themselves later. They will either have to continue spreading ideas that they know to be false or will have to publicly admit that the opposition they smugly dismissed was actually correct, and that their activism was part of the problem.
"Yes, but cars provide such an essential function"
So do guns, as I have written at length here (Source 1). Further, if you actually believe guns don't provide an essential function then should we disarm our police and military?
" the current negatives outweigh the positives; this is shown by the simple fact that so many people still drive daily"
Replace the word "drive" with "carry a gun". Social proof is not an argument.
"newer car models are continually being made safer"
They still kill the same number of people (triple the number if we remove suicides).
"guns will always be made for no purpose other than to cause lethal damage to whatever is in front of the barrel."
Is there no reason to ever harm another individual?
"ALSO not to mention that your car analogy fails in the sense that "the genius" opting out of driving significantly reduces his/her chances of being involved in a fatal motor collision..."
Sure, he wont collide a car with another car, yet he still has the same chance of being hit by a car when crossing roads etc.
"There are very few instances of "the genius" successfully defending himself against "the idiot" in said circumstance."
It's estimated that 2 million defensive gun uses (DGUs) occur annually (Source 2,3).
"Anybody can get semi-accurate at shooting a still target at a shooting range; but the average American is severely unprepared for the event of an emergency requiring the use of a firearm."
So the argument is that because some gun-owners won't be able to use their gun effectively, everybody's ability to defend themselves should be removed. Beside the fact that this makes no sense, the vast majority of DGUs only involve brandishing the weapon (Source 2,3), which doesn't take any skill.
"Investing in a better police force rather than arming a country full of people who have no experience or training in emergency situations would be better for society overall."
First of all, the police typically only arrive after a crime has taken place; when it is too late. Secondly, as I went into in detail in the debate cited (Source 1) an armed citizenry protects against the emergence of an authoritarian government and makes foreign invasion impractical.
(3) http://americangunfacts.com/pdf/Armed Resistance to Crime- The Prevalence and Nature of Self-Defe.pdf (LINKED BELOW IN SUPPORTING EVIDENCE)