Thursday, March 28, 2019

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: Lying

Dear Friends,

This Sunday we are discussing: Lying.

As you can see we first discussed this topic way back in December 2005
and subsequent related topics since then.

So the new essays for this Sunday 31st March on Lying are:

"Lying" by Ruel F. Pepa
https://ruelfpepa.wordpress.com/2019/03/25/lying/

Lying 2 – by Lawrence JC Baron
http://www.philomadrid.com/2019/03/lying-2.html

Past Essays on Lying including essays by Ruel:
--- Ruel F Pepa:
"The Value (or Transvaluation) of Lies"
https://ruelfpepa.wordpress.com/2014/01/29/the-value-or-transvaluation-of-lies/


"The 'Fifth Columnist' Art of Elegant Deception: Survival in a Crazy
Urban Jungle"
https://ruelfpepa.wordpress.com/2016/11/04/the-art-of-survival-in-a-crazy-urban-jungle/


--- Lawrence JC Baron:
Lying
https://www.philomadrid.com/2005/12/lying_11.html
Sunday, December 11, 2005

Is it necessary to lie in life?
https://www.philomadrid.com/2018/03/from-lawrence-sunday-philomadrid_9.html
Friday, March 09, 2018

Best Lawrence

tel: 606081813
philomadrid@gmail.com
Blog: http://philomadrid.blogspot.com.es/
MeetUp https://www.meetup.com/PhiloMadrid-philosophy-group/
Gran Clavel (Café-Bar): Gran vía 11, esquina C/ Clavel, 28013—Madrid


from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: Lying

Lying 2




Lying 2 – by Lawrence JC Baron

Lying
https://www.philomadrid.com/2005/12/lying_11.html
Sunday, December 11, 2005

Is it necessary to lie in life?
https://www.philomadrid.com/2018/03/from-lawrence-sunday-philomadrid_9.html
Friday, March 09, 2018

As you can see, the last time we discussed lying was way back in 2005, and with a context driven question in 2018. This is not surprising since lying is one of the key topics in ethics and morality. I am also not in the habit of re-reading my past essays so I shall, on this occasion, discuss a very narrow aspect about lying, mainly: do we have a duty to find out whether people are lying to us? And if we do what is the anatomy of lies, or at least big ticket fibs?

My enquiry does not imply that we are not victims of liars nor that lying is not morally reprehensible. What I mean is that just because we are victims of liars it is still the rational and reasonable thing to do to identify liars before they cause us any real damage. And my position is not based on some moral or ethical duty to prevent liars from causing us any harm. But rather it is a matter of survival prudence to try and stop liars from causing us any harm. There is nothing ethical about avoiding harm; it’s just an occupational hazard.

Before I proceed further, I will not concern myself with white lies, survival lies, eg lying to the gestapo, or not-me child type lies. I am thinking in such big ticket lies as: if you invest all your savings with us you’ll receive a 25% return on investment; trading on WTO rules is more profitable than negotiating international deals with friends and neighbours; for-profit health care services are better than universal health care. And I chose these examples, although not exclusively, because they are very common everyday banter, they are very easily verifiable and they cause us, and have caused us, great damage and harm.

I will argue and hope to show that the best way to understand the anatomy of these dangerous lies is to use the immunology model for infectious diseases. The validity of this model is to help us understand that lying is based on the following principles: microbes are a type of life that can interact with humans in the same way that lies can interact with our knowledge and beliefs. Even more, our beliefs are our personal precious jewels and thus more susceptible to harm rather the cold objective knowledge and facts we might have learnt in our life. But our beliefs are our weak spot.

Another aspect of the model is that we know, a priori, that dangerous microbes and dangerous lies will cause us harm unless we do something about it.  And up to an extent and, due to scientific methodology on the one hand and rational moral principles on the other, we have means to identify, understand and counteract against diseases and lies. I will come back to this model later on.

We grow up in life with this false belief, and no doubt I am guilty of this as anyone else, that truth is indeed the antidote and the refutability of lies. When lies hit the wall of truth, we believe, these lies will disappear into harmless nothings. Unfortunately, this is philosophical bunkum and a dangerous one at that. Earlier I said that beliefs are our personal jewels and described knowledge in terms of cold objectivity.

Lies are indeed like "microbes" that attack our precious beliefs and thus destroy the value of our jewels. It’s one thing for us to change our mind but a very different matter for liars to infect our mind with their lies and usurp our beliefs with their lies. In other words, liars want to convert our emotional beliefs to take the appearance of hard cold knowledge. Hence, liars are trying to usurp our understanding of the truth with their fake version of the truth. The new “truth,” that is an infection of a lie, acquires the properties of beliefs such as emotions and visceral feelings whilst pretending to be hard cold knowledge or facts.

Cold objective facts, are anything but emotional, but more importantly, we are not entitled to our own facts. We are entitled to our own beliefs, but not to our own made up or unverified facts. A lie from others converts a possible belief we might have into “knowledge” thus inheriting the emotive impulse to act whilst neutralising our natural cautious instinct to question new information: basically, we suspend our risk assessment skills we naturally employ to new information.

Unlike beliefs, facts can and are scrutinised by agreed methodologies that have worked well and when they don’t we find better ones or fix them. Beliefs cannot be so scrutinised not just because we haven’t got a powerful Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machine to read our brains, but because reading our brain does not equal to a belief: an image of the queen mother is not HM the Queen Mother. This is what I mean by our beliefs are our jewels: we create our beliefs in the sanctum sanctorum of our brain with no recourse to the outside world. We are the omnipotent god of our beliefs.

In a way there are two functioning “engines” to control infectious diseases. In its wisdom or by chance nature gave us a powerful immune system to fight and control a myriad of infectious diseases. And it’s not a surprise that the “philosophy” behind immunology is what we philosophers call empiricism; basically immunology is a biological system to gather information, provide intentional actions and most important of all learn from experience. Of course, the discipline is nothing like this but my description is enough for my purposes: I have no intention of exploring the details and risk coming across the devil.

The other “engine” is the principle of vaccines: in my argument vaccines “teach” the immune system to recognise and attack invading diseases, in the same way that facts teach us to distinguish among lies, beliefs and reality. Facts are the foot soldiers that fight lies, and once lies are destroyed we enjoy the emotion euphoria which we call the truth.

Vaccines, like facts, work on the principle of “Herd Immunity” (search term for details): basically immunity against a disease works by having as many people as possible vaccinated against the disease. Protection against an infectious disease is not just us being vaccinated but also by others being vaccinated too. In philosophical terms the Herd Immunity functions on the principle of cooperation or to use a modern business term, herd immunity is a numbers game.

Facts (knowledge) work in the same manner as herd immunity: the more facts we know the more we are likely to identify liars or counter act lies. Dangerous lies will only survive if people are not aware of the facts, but today due to higher standards of living, mobile phones (as Alfonso always argued) and the internet we have some tools for efficient personal learning and access to practical facts. Of course, I am not saying that what we label as a fact is indeed a fact. As I said, facts we can use are usually the result of an accepted methodologies, such as the scientific method, fact checking, evidence based information and so on.

Thus big ticket lying can be defeated or at a minimum contained by learning and accessing real life facts. Experience is a means to adjust our application of knowledge to function as intended. This schema is practically the immunology model described in less than a score and four words.

The problem with the herd immunity model for us, in the debate on lying, is that the bottom line is always that our beliefs are our jewels and we shall never give them up lightly. Thus, members of the herd might not always employ herd rationality but rather stick to herd mentality.

Best Lawrence


-----------------------------------------

New essays:


"Lying" by Ruel F. Pepa
https://ruelfpepa.wordpress.com/2019/03/25/lying/

Lying 2 – by Lawrence JC Baron

Past Essays on Lying including essays by Ruel:  
--- Ruel F Pepa:
"The Value (or Transvaluation) of Lies"  
https://ruelfpepa.wordpress.com/2014/01/29/the-value-or-transvaluation-of-lies/ 

"The 'Fifth Columnist' Art of Elegant Deception: Survival in a Crazy Urban Jungle"
https://ruelfpepa.wordpress.com/2016/11/04/the-art-of-survival-in-a-crazy-urban-jungle/ 

--- Lawrence JC Baron:
Lying
https://www.philomadrid.com/2005/12/lying_11.html
Sunday, December 11, 2005

Is it necessary to lie in life?
https://www.philomadrid.com/2018/03/from-lawrence-sunday-philomadrid_9.html
Friday, March 09, 2018




Thursday, March 21, 2019

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: What do we really want? + News

Dear Friends,

This Sunday we are discussing: What do we really want?

You will find the links to Ruel's and my essay below. I don't think the
irony of the title will be lost on you given this Saturday EuroCitizens
are organising a demonstration (concentración) at 12h in Plaza Margaret
Thatcher, Metro Colón/Serrano demanding a People's Vote on Brexit now
that we know what this means. Details below.


What Do We Really Want? By Ruel F Pepa
https://ruelfpepa.wordpress.com/2019/03/18/what-do-we-really-want/

What do we really want? By Lawrence JC Baron
http://www.philomadrid.com/2019/03/what-do-we-really-want.html


March for a People's Vote -- 12h Plaza Margaret Thatcher
On Saturday (23/03/2019), we (EuroCitizens) are organising our very own
demonstration in central Madrid (12h Plaza Margaret Thatcher, Metro
Colón/Serrano). Our aim is to support the third March for a People's
Vote in London, because staying in the EU is the best way for us to keep
our existing rights……more here -->
https://www.philomadrid.com/2019/03/march-for-peoples-vote-12h-plaza.html


And finally the video on humane fois gras:
Dan Barber: A surprising parable of foie gras
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gvrgD0mAFoU&t=24s

Best Lawrence

tel: 606081813
philomadrid@gmail.com
Blog: http://philomadrid.blogspot.com.es/
MeetUp https://www.meetup.com/PhiloMadrid-philosophy-group/
Gran Clavel (Café-Bar): Gran vía 11, esquina C/ Clavel, 28013—Madrid


from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: What do we really
want? + News

March for a People's Vote 12h Plaza Margaret Thatcher



23M: EuroCitizens takes to the streets of Madrid
Dear EuroCitizen,

Brexit is only eleven days away unless something happens at the last minute, so now is the time for us to get out on the streets and make our voices felt.

On Saturday, we are organising our very own demonstration in central Madrid (12h Plaza Margaret Thatcher, Metro Colón/Serrano). Our aim is to support the third March for a People's Vote in London, because staying in the EU is the best way for us to keep our existing rights. We will also be asking for the ring-fencing of the citizens' rights part of the Withdrawal Agreement, to give legal protection to the five million Europeans in the UK and Britons in the EU.

We have permission for the demonstration and a lot of work has been done by a small group of volunteers. At the event, there will be two or three short speeches, a link-up with London, a video about EuroCitizens, poems, music and fun activities for children and adults.

What you can do:

- come along dressed up in blue and yellow - you can even paint your face and wear a wig!
- make your own placard (there will be a prize for the best one)
- be ready to have fun and make lots of noise

We need more volunteers to help out on the day. Write to: fionawestbury@hotmail.com / whatsapp 629258948

Please share this information with as many people as possible. We look forward to seeing you this Saturday in La Plaza Margaret Thatcher!

With best wishes,

Michael Harris
EuroCitizens demonstrating in Callao in April 2017. It seems like a long time ago!


 More information: eurocitizens2016@gmail.com
Or: https://eurocitizens2020.blogspot.com/

Or contact me, Lawrence on 606081813 and I'll pass your queries to Michael


What do we really want? by Lawrence


What we want, whether “really” or just “want”, is a very subjective process? Maybe even a process that is both conscious and subconscious of our brain.

The linguistic difference, of “really” wanting something and “just” wanting something hints at our epistemic state of mind. What we want can be something based on emotions, an immediate necessity, a possible means for future plans, and maybe even an indulgence. However, what we “really want” suggests that we have put some “rational” input in deciding that we want A and not Z. What we really want seems to be more like a plan than an impulse.

We can also interpret the topic question as an interrogation to decide what we want as opposed to an impulse or even to make up our mind! On a good day this would be like selecting a dish from a menu del dia when we like two of the options but can only chose one. And on a bad day having a choice of six dishes but none are appetising. I won’t discuss this “indecisiveness” interpretation of the question.

Wants, and up to an extent desires, are motivating forces to interact with our environment and certainly a key factor for our intentions and our actions. Knowing what we want suggests that we have a plan. Surely if wants and desires are forces to interact with our environment, then we need to have a clear idea of what will satisfy reality and a good knowledge about how the world functions. Even simple things in life must reach this equilibrium of our level of knowledge and reality itself to reach a success.

In philosophical terms, we are looking at the question: what are the necessary and sufficient conditions for our wants to be fulfilled? Hence, in effect what I am asking here is to replace the “really” in the question with “necessary and sufficient conditions” for what we want. In other words, what we really want must include the necessary and sufficient conditions that will bring about what we want otherwise nothing is going to happen. Surely we cannot be said to really want something unless we also want to align in our favour the necessary and sufficient conditions that can bring about what we want?

Let’s take as an example of a political programme that aims to achieve wealth and prosperity but at the same time has no provisions for alliances and international cooperation. This is a desire or a want that fails to take into account the reality of 21st century economics and geo politics. Even countries with untold wealth will still have to negotiate with other countries. North Korea is a very good example of a country whose leaders are completely divorced from reality; which is why these people are not leaders but dictators. Compare South Korea with North Korea; South Korea is a balanced country with the necessary and sufficient conditions relatively lined up in their favour! Of course, knowing what we really want does not imply nor reflect any sense of perfection or superiority.  

At a personal level the necessary and sufficient conditions still apply: the balance is to know what conditions will bring about what we want and preparing ourselves to act accordingly. Although our personal knowledge about the situation is key, since this helps us to know when to act and how tact, success is not just a matter for us. The world is a big place and we are not the only people interacting with it, thus a lot depends on the people around us.

The second issue with our mindset about what we want is that we might be wrong. Knowing what we want and knowing what we want but we are wrong are two different things. There are many reasons why we could be wrong, some reasons are legitimate and some just simply ignorance about the facts. But any anomalies regarding what people say they want and what they do might even alert us to the honesty, naivety, or integrity of that person.

Hence, what someone wants and what someone does might enhance or diminish the meaning of “really” in the question. The wider the discrepancy the more cautious we have to be about any statements of fact professed by that person. At first blush we might think of applying this test to politicians and advertisers, but this need not be the case. In teaching, for example, we seek to check whether our students have understood a point; and in the case of teaching a language this could be the meaning of a word or text etc.

When a student tries to explain or use a particular aspect of a lesson, rather than memorise the lesson, we know what they really want to say. We know we have no cause to question their integrity, so this leaves us with their state of mind. In this case if how they use the lesson reflects what they were supposed to have learnt, then we can claim that they have learnt the lesson: given that the only variable was their state of mind. Whether people remember the lesson the following morning is a different matter. But even when a student forgets something, the student who has learnt the lesson will know that they forgot.

In effect what people really want and what they really do can tell us a lot about people, their intentions and state of their knowledge. We can question the honesty and integrity of the person and even ascertain whether they are mistaken or just confused. However, there is a little problem when looking at what people say they want to ascertain what they really want: how do we know that we are not wrong about our assessment of the situation?


Best Lawrence

Also:
from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: What do we really want? + News https://www.philomadrid.com/2019/03/from-lawrence-sunday-philomadrid_21.html


21st March 2019


Thursday, March 14, 2019

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: The ethics of dealing with fellow animals

Dear Friends,

This Sunday we are discussing: The ethics of dealing with fellow animals

The last time we discussed Animal Rights was way back in 2007 so it is
time we revisited the topic. Ruel and I have each wrote an essay:

Ethical Dealings with Fellow Animals by Ruel F. Pepa
https://ruelfpepa.wordpress.com/2019/03/13/ethical-dealings-with-fellow-animals/

The ethics of dealing with fellow animals by Lawrence JC Baron
https://www.philomadrid.com/2019/03/the-ethics-of-dealing-with-fellow.html


Best Lawrence


tel: 606081813
philomadrid@gmail.com
Blog: http://philomadrid.blogspot.com.es/
MeetUp https://www.meetup.com/PhiloMadrid-philosophy-group/
Gran Clavel (Café-Bar): Gran vía 11, esquina C/ Clavel, 28013—Madrid


from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: The ethics of
dealing with fellow animals

The ethics of dealing with fellow animals

The ethics of dealing with fellow animals

We are familiar with some of the arguments about animal rights and many people are even active in promoting animal rights. So you will forgive me if I focus on the Ethics and the language side of the topic question and not the well known arguments on animal rights (1).

On the ethics side, I want to ask a simple question: By what means does an ethical system give a benefit to a party but does not require a reciprocal duty from that party to follow the normative principles of the ethical system? More simply, why should we apply ethical principles to animals when they don’t reciprocate?

But first the language involved in the title subject. The words “fellow animals” are fully loaded with meaning that we need to disambiguate it. The function of the word “fellow” is to imply that those in the general set “animals” have not only the same status as us, human beings, but that we are also members of the same set of animals. The implication of this situation is that any ethical system that applied to us must also apply to other animals in the general set of animals. And of course, vice versa, any member of the set (i.e. other species) who can establish an ethical system, must, ipso facto, also apply to us.

Under this scenario the set of “animals” includes all animals and us as equal members of that set: set All Animals = ((animals – humans) + (humans)), we can call this the Equal interpretation. We might even take this idea to extremes with: set All Animals = All biological creatures. In effect this represents the modern trend in thinking about our relationship with animals. Irrespective of the emotional attraction to this position we still need to tease out the philosophical issues of this Equal interpretation position.

The traditional attitude towards animals has so far been, at least at face value seems to be, that Human Beings are not only superior to other biological creatures but that animals have no rational value. Western religions are very fond of professing the difference in substance, if not in form, of the sanctity of human beings compared to animals. The traditional attitude towards the human – animal relationship is: humans animals, we can call this the Superiority interpretation. The traditional form of this relationship is that animals are chattels and cannot have any qualities which humans enjoy either empirically or metaphysically: the list starts from souls to consciousness. In effect, under the Superiority interpretation of this human-animal relationship, the subject of our meeting is a load of nonsense.

On a biological level the Superiority interpretation is false since there are many empirical similarities and commonalities between humans and animals that we just cannot exclude ourselves from the biological set of creatures. We might very well be something else apart from biological creatures, and I will show that we are, but we are certainly animals as well. I will also show that especially under the Superiority interpretation we have a moral responsibility towards animals.

The question I put forward earlier was: By what means does an ethical system give a benefit to a party but does not require a reciprocal duty from that party to follow the normative principles of the system? As already suggested, under the Equality interpretation, a human ethical system would have the same value and binding force on other members of the general set of all animals. The nature of an Ethical system is that it is binding on all members who are subject to that system, but how can we make other species to follow an ethical system by the human species? We might and can enforce an “ethical” system within species but not intra species. And what would an ethical system devised by spiders be like that also binds human beings?

It is clear that the Equality interpretation is seriously flawed and it is flawed for a number of reasons. The main reason is that there are no ethical systems in nature. In the natural world there are only the laws of physics, chemistry and biology. Ethics is a human system that makes sense to humans; we understand our ethical system but animals can never understand our reasoning. This is not to say that other species might not have their own “ethical systems” but nothing that will or can involve human beings.

Another reason is that how on Earth do we communicate our ethical system to other species; and vice versa. Specifically, what language do we use to “communicate” what is good and what is bad? What is the meaning of acceptable and unacceptable for other animals? Indeed, how will spiders understand our meaning of good or bad? For those who are fascinated by this issue they would do well to start with the paper by Thomas Nagel “What is it like to be a bat?” Although this paper is more about consciousness the issue is how can we be conscious of a set of rules that out brain cannot even begin to assimilate as part of our epistemological environment?

Even under our present ethical system it is unfair to assume that we are equal to other animals when in reality we are the equivalent to animals what a nuclear bomb is to a hamlet with half a dozen cottages. Having said that, viruses and microbes do give us more than just a good run for our money, some are deadly to us. So basically the serious problem with the Equality interpretation is that we do not have an equal rights relationship with animals: firstly because the concept of ethics is a human concept and secondly because we are the predominant predator on Earth now. But we most certainly have a “duty of care” towards animals.

In the celebrated appeal case in the House of Lords UK), DONOGHUE (Pauper) v. STEVENSON 1932 ((2): I referred to this case many times in my essays: the snail in the bottle case) Lord Atkin says: “…….the lawyer's question, Who is my neighbour? receives a restricted reply. You must take reasonable care to avoid acts or omissions which you can reasonably foresee would be likely to injure your neighbour. Who, then, in law, is my neighbour?........”

Therefore, taking this case as a model for Ethics, I would argue that we have a duty of care towards animals not because they are our equals but because they are our neighbours in the biological sphere. And more importantly there are many acts and omissions that we “can reasonably foresee” to avoid harm towards animals. Under the biological rules all creatures can use other species for their own gain: it is the biological right of every cat or every dog to steal your sausages. The difference for us is that we have evolved and supplanted* our biological rules and rights for rational rules and rights to enable us obtain massive gains and advantages from our environment. A state of affairs that cannot be reached with only the biological rules and this means we have a duty of care towards other animals. Indeed, it is a well accepted ethical principle that the strong have a duty to protect the weak or disadvantaged.

The problem is that ethics is all well and good, but it doesn’t solve such problems as eating animals, blood sports and mass breeding. As I said under the biological rules eating animals is allowed, although wasting animal meat might not necessarily be strictly within these rules. As for hunting or blood sports we need to understand why such activities were started in the first place. We need to distinguish between a necessity, hunting for food or fighting predators, and that necessity evolving into a cultural meme many centuries later. This chain of investigation is all within our intellectual capacity to investigate and then devise a model to reconcile the meme with the ethical norm of our time.

Those who are following Brexit at an engaged level would have come across the case of the “chlorinated chicken”. Basically in the USA they disinfect chicken with a chlorine treatment to remove bacteria, whereas this is banned by the EU. Brexiters in the UK argue that imported American chickens (post Brexit) are safe to eat even though they are chlorinated; and the EU agrees with them. The reason why the EU bans chlorinated chickens is that this allows American breeder to have “poor hygiene behaviour” (3) during the breeding and processing stages of chickens thus creating “harm” to chickens whilst at the same time giving unfair financial advantages over humane breeding practices in the EU. In a way these issues are low level solvable ethical problems; emotional yes but not hard hitting ethics as this US chlorinated chicken case demonstrates.

In the meantime if you really want hard hitting ethical questions about dealing with animals how about: do we have any duty of care towards human microbiota, microbes in general, fungi, viruses and especially the common cold virus?

* 5:30pm 15/03/2019: in retrospect, maybe we have not completely replaced (supplanted) the biological rules, but for most part we employ the rational rules (duty of care or build bridges) whilst still employing the biological rules for our biological survival: we still need to eat, or drink but impose degrees of rational rules. 

(1)  Animal Rights our meeting June 2007
http://www.philomadrid.com/search/label/Animal%20rights

(2)  M'ALISTER or DONOGHUE (Pauper) Appellant v. STEVENSON. Respondent (PDF File) – also check Wikipedia.
 
https://www.uni-trier.de/fileadmin/fb5/FFA/KURSUNTERLAGEN/Anglo-Amerikanisches_Recht/Law_of_Torts/Siry-SS-2012/Donoghue_v_Stevenson__1932__UKHL_100__26_May_1932_.pdf

(3)  Chlorinated chicken explained: why do the Americans treat their poultry with chlorine? By Julia Glotz in The Grocer.
https://www.thegrocer.co.uk/food-safety/chlorinated-chicken-explained-why-do-the-americans-treat-their-poultry-with-chlorine/555618.article



Best Lawrence






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