PHILOMADRID

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Friday, April 19, 2019

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: Justice or Revenge (2)

Dear Friends,

This Easter Sunday we are once again discussing: Justice or Revenge (2).

This is a topic we discussed way back in the past but I guess some
topics do not age. Anyway below are the essay links by Ruel and I for
this Sunday's topic and for the past essays.

Essays for Justice or Revenge 2019

- Justice or Revenge? By Ruel F. Pepa
https://ruelfpepa.wordpress.com/2019/04/10/justice-or-revenge/

- Justice or Revenge (2) by Lawrence JC Baron
https://www.philomadrid.com/2019/04/justice-or-revenge.html

Previous essays on Justice

- Is Justice Revenge? By Ruel F. Pepa
https://ruelfpepa.wordpress.com/2014/07/08/on-justice-as-revenge/

- Is Justice Revenge? By Lawrence JC Baron
https://www.philomadrid.com/2014/07/from-lawrence-saturday-philomadrid_11.html

- Justice and Revenge By Lawrence JC Baron
https://www.philomadrid.com/2005/10/justice-and-revenge.html

- Social Justice Warriors By Lawrence JC Baron
https://www.philomadrid.com/2014/12/from-lawrence-sunday-philomadrid_12.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: Justice or Revenge (2)

Friday, April 12, 2019

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: Justice or Revenge (2)

Dear Friends,

This Sunday we are discussing: Justice or Revenge (2).

This is a topic we discussed way back in the past but I guess some
topics do not age. Anyway below are the essay links by Ruel and I for
this Sunday's topic and for the past essays.

Essays for Justice or Revenge 2019

- Justice or Revenge? By Ruel F. Pepa
https://ruelfpepa.wordpress.com/2019/04/10/justice-or-revenge/

- Justice or Revenge (2) by Lawrence JC Baron
https://www.philomadrid.com/2019/04/justice-or-revenge.html

Previous essays on Justice

- Is Justice Revenge? By Ruel F. Pepa
https://ruelfpepa.wordpress.com/2014/07/08/on-justice-as-revenge/

- Is Justice Revenge? By Lawrence JC Baron
https://www.philomadrid.com/2014/07/from-lawrence-saturday-philomadrid_11.html

- Justice and Revenge By Lawrence JC Baron
https://www.philomadrid.com/2005/10/justice-and-revenge.html

- Social Justice Warriors By Lawrence JC Baron
https://www.philomadrid.com/2014/12/from-lawrence-sunday-philomadrid_12.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: Justice or Revenge (2)

Justice or Revenge (2)


Justice or Revenge (2)

Once again this is a topic we have discussed in the past and we also discussed the topic of justice in many contexts in the past. I will, therefore, on this occasion focus on revenge.

Justice is a very common subject in philosophy, but not revenge. In language and in high street morality revenge is negative and frowned upon. The accepted view is that if we allow revenge to be the norm we’ll soon spiral into lawlessness and rule by violence.

Nevertheless, we can even put forward a forceful argument for revenge, but the problem with revenge is that how do we establish: what would be a justifiable amount of retribution and what would be a justifiable nature of retribution? If we’re hit in the face with a fist, are we allowed to use a right hand full swing of a baseball bat?

But once we exclude some of the historical baggage from revenge we end up with something more manageable for example the golden rule. The reason why revenge is very like the golden rule is that a moral justification is based on subjective criteria of the victim in the case of revenge. The golden rule is based on the justification of the actor and hoping they are not too outrageous.

A weakness of the golden rule, both in the positive and negative version, is that it does not distinguish between what we hypothetically want to be done to us and what we can actually do. Hence, if we know we can achieve something, then we are justified in wishing what we want to be the moral law, irrespective of what others can achieve for themselves. Revenge is very similar to this way of thinking, the rational victim would only seek revenge if they can get away with their actions: an irrational victim would act without thinking whether they will be hurt again or not.

The Kantian version (or even versions) of the Categorical Imperative includes an argument to avoid the subjective standard and appeals to rationality and universalizability of what we want to formulate as moral law. This is all well and good but there are two issues with this Kantian view and philosophy: 1) as moral agents we want principles that will help us solve real world problems now. Thus when we are in a position of hitting someone in the face for an injury caused we don’t want to become at that instant an architect and engineer of moral principles but rather an administrative agent of moral principles. 2) How can categorical imperatives manifest themselves into hypothetical imperatives and thus solve real world problems? We’ve already seen this conundrum in philosophy with Cartesian duality: how does the soul or mind cause the body to act? And that hasn’t evolved very well in the history of ideas.

In modern times we come across a more sophisticated argument for revenge that of a tit-for-tat strategy, although the term itself has a historical pedigree (see Wikipedia). Couched in the language of game theory and mathematical analysis basically a tit-for-tat strategy solves “what is justifiable retaliation” and the answer is replicate what has been done to one’s self. The strategy itself is a successful strategy for cooperation. Indeed cooperation is the best strategy we have to maintain a stable balance in competing interests. The issue with this strategy is that everyone is very happy when people reciprocate acts of kindness and good will, but the problem is acts of evil and harm.

The real issue, I would argue, with acts of evil and harm is that we want the evil to stop now and not for us to muster enough energy to retaliate. Revenge is not only about emotional satisfaction but a rational sense of neutralising the threat. At the instant when we have to decide whether to fight or flight we don’t want to analyse the niceties of the induction problem that what happened in the past might not necessarily repeat itself in the future.

We see this idea of acting to stop harm carried out with the nuclear attacks on Japan during the Second World War. The only advantage of these bombings was that it took only two bombers to achieve a similar horrific level of human and material destruction in each of the two cities of what took hundreds of bombers to inflict on Tokyo.

But revenge is an old problem after all we all remember the teachings of the bible to avoid an eye for an eye strategy, which is basically the negative side of a tit-for-tat strategy.

Thus our topic comes down to deciding whether a theory of justice is in effect a polite form of language of a revenge strategy or whether we have a choice between justice and revenge. If the choice is between justice and revenge then how do we come to decide whether to adopt the justice way or the revenge way? And this is something game theory and decision theory can help us with our thinking. But the weakness with revenge is that even though we can devise formal strategies to help us out it cannot account for the unmeasurable factor of emotions: how do we measure the intensity and force of emotions? Or to put it in a different way, how much emotional force does it take to ever justify revenge?

Best Lawrence



Essays for Justice or Revenge 2019

- Justice or Revenge? By Ruel F. Pepa
- Justice or Revenge (2) by Lawrence JC Baron

Previous essays on Justice

- Is Justice Revenge? By Ruel F. Pepa
- Is Justice Revenge? By Lawrence JCBaron
- Justice and Revenge By Lawrence JCBaron
- Social Justice Warriors By Lawrence JCBaron


Friday, April 05, 2019

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: The need for religions in the 21st Century

Dear friends,

This Sunday we are discussing: The need for religions in the 21st Century

We have two essays for the topic, one by Ruel and the other by me. But
we are not new to discussing religion; as you can see we have discussed
the topic in various context many times in the past. I am sure I don't
need to remind you of the 15 year no Spanish Religion rule.

The Need for Religion(s) in the 21st Century –by- Ruel Pepa
https://ruelfpepa.wordpress.com/2019/04/02/the-need-for-religions-in-the-twenty-first-century/


The need for religions in the 21st Century –by- Lawrence JC Baron
https://www.philomadrid.com/2019/04/the-need-for-religions-in-21st-century.html


Past essays by Ruel Pepa
1) "On Institutionalized Religion and the "Reliquification" of Spirituality"
 https://ruelfpepa.wordpress.com/2018/01/20/on-institutionalized-religion-and-the-reliquification-of-spirituality/
2) "A Religion-Free Society?"
https://ruelfpepa.wordpress.com/2015/01/13/a-religion-free-society/
3)  "On Spirituality"
https://ruelfpepa.wordpress.com/2014/01/05/on-spirituality/


Past essays by Lawrence JC Baron
-Do Religions help people?
https://www.philomadrid.com/2008/05/from-lawrence-pub-philosophy-group_9993.html
-Religion and Education
https://www.philomadrid.com/2004/12/religion-and-education.html
-Religion free society
https://www.philomadrid.com/2015/01/from-lawrence-sunday-philomadrid_15.html
-Symbolism in Religion [symbols in religion]
https://www.philomadrid.com/2006/12/symbolism-in-religion-symbols-in.html
-Why are religions obsessed with sex?
https://www.philomadrid.com/2011/09/from-lawrence-sunday-philomadrid.html
-Why are religions so successful?
https://www.philomadrid.com/2013/01/from-lawrence-sunday-philomadrid_11.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 need for
religions in the 21st Century

Thursday, April 04, 2019

The need for religions in the 21st Century

By Lawrence JC Baron

The need for religions in the 21st Century

Religion is a topic we have covered in various contexts in the past. Religion and religions are relevant to philosophy because of their methodology and logic that is applied to persuade people to abide by the will of the religious leaders many times contrary to their personal conviction.

Let us be clear, the methodologies applied by religions to justify their authority are not philosophical or scientific methodologies. A methodology that excludes within its set of beliefs the possibility of a proposition to be false is not a philosophical or scientific methodology. In this respect we cannot say that the set of beliefs of a religion are about statements of facts in our universe. And we only have access to our universe.

However, this is not to say that “religions” cannot be the subject of philosophical investigation.  Firstly because the question of our topic is asking us to make a value judgement on the need of religions this century.
- The most important philosophical aspect of investigating religions is that religions are based on a set of beliefs (descriptive beliefs) that purport to claim facts about the world or our universe as I said earlier. (god is omnipotent).
- Religions justify their prescriptive tenets by appealing to the descriptive veracity of propositions about our universe. (Obey the will of god).
- Tenets based on the set of beliefs of the religion are given the status of physical imperatives. (Obey god or else you will be stoned).
- Although religions are inherited cultural memes they present themselves as holders of political power or influence out of right. In effect religions, through their prescriptive tenets, compete with the legislative power of the state. (Abortion is wrong even though parliament recognises this right).

Unfortunately, there is another set of concepts that religions employ to exclude themselves from the realms of empirical reality and these are basically: spirituality, transcendence, supernatural, divine etc (see Wikipedia); and I’ll call these the spirituality set. But the most important claim made by religions is that they and only they have the key to morality. And since morality is about value judgments this is clearly a philological domain.

So by excluding such ideas as spirituality and divinity from religions, by virtue that they cannot be subject to falsifiability since these concepts are the source of the descriptive set of propositions of religion and not propositions themselves: god is omnipotent because he or she is supernatural. The supernaturality of god is what gives and confers the properties of godness. Compare this with all swans are white. This is a proposition purporting to claim something is a fact in our universe and, therefore, falsifiable. “Swans are animals because they are part of biology,” the concept biology is not falsifiable because it is not a statement about our universe but a function of our language.

But by excluding the spirituality set from our analysis we are open to widen our scope of what is a religion. If a religion is a set of untested and unverified (or falsifiable) set of beliefs that purport to be the source of physical imperatives then we can include as religions such things as: political ideologies, economic models, membership organisations such as the free masons and so.

Focusing on the traditional meaning of religions, to answer our question we have to look at what we mean by “need” and why the 21st Century. In a way, philosophy has little to say about what I have been calling the descriptive set of beliefs. People can believe whatever they want and whatever their brain tells them to believe.

Our domain as I said is the prescriptive and imperative tenets of religions because these purport to have special claims to morality and political power. Religions do not have any automatic legitimacy to morality and political power without being subjected to a methodological verification process and being subjected to falsifiability.

Normative and practical ethics cannot be based on human conceptual beliefs (eg divine, spirituality) but on verifiability methodologies to ascertain the validity or not of religious prescriptive tenets.

Let us take the narrative of the Ten Commandments in Christianity; seven of these commandments are practical tenets which no self respecting rational person would question. Thou shalt not kill, steal, commit adultery etc etc are principles that can easily be verified as valid rational principles. In a way we do not need to invoke any supernatural power to confirm their validity. But the commands do not tell us anything about self defence, mercy killing, capital punishment and so. The set of prescriptive beliefs in Christianity, although some are valid, they don’t cover all aspects of human life.

Compare these seven commandments with the other concept of charity. Indeed many religions justify their virtue by their proclamation to offer charity to the needy; see for example, Why Give? Religious Roots of Charity (Harvard Divinity School) https://hds.harvard.edu/news/2013/12/13/why-give-religious-roots-charity# .

If we look at the Hebrew Bible injunction, "love thy neighbor as thyself" later mentioned by Jesus in the parable of the Good Samaritan we see a common moral principle which today we also call the golden rule/categorical imperative. The problem with this rule is not that we should or shouldn’t help others, that’s not even in doubt, but that I (subjective person) am hardly the gold standard of how people should be treated. If it was up to me all fresh dairy products or lactose additives will be prohibited because I am lactose intolerant; but even I recognise this is absurd. Except today many people who are seriously allergic to common day products such as nuts fall victims of maybe negligent producers who include these ingredients without warning.

The golden rule not only fails because it does not treat people as individuals with different needs and conditions but also employs the bad methodology of creating a universalisable principle from a subjective sample of one! This is why we have a myriad of legislation controlling quality standards and information on goods we buy. In effect the golden rule has today been replaced by scientific evidence and judicial duty of care. Today the Good Samaritan would have been helped by a phone call to the ambulance and police authorities and in a civilized country the victim would have been medically treated for free and not first asked for a credit card.

The following document from the Purdue University site by Darlene Ann Levy December 3, 2012 (https://www.purdueglobal.edu/blog/social-behavioral-sciences/helping-those-in-need/ ) gives a very brief outline on the idea of charity in different religions. What is clear here is that charity is a well established religious imperative either as a law or as a moral principle.

The problem with imperatives is that they do not question the facts or the alternatives. Help the poor, does not question the idea why are there poor people who need charity? The principle does not consider the possibility that some people are poor because their human rights are being abused or at the very least not protected by their government. Nor does the principle offer an alternative such as setting up a more equitable wealth distribution in a country. Why do we collect money to provide food for the poor, but not to take companies to court to pay people a reasonable remuneration for their work?

In conclusion what we need in the 21st century are prescriptive ethics and morality based on accepted and proven methodologies and not on unaccountable tenets. In the 21st century we are still entitled to our beliefs but we are not entitled to impose our beliefs on others without proper accountability and justification.

 Best Lawrence


The Need for Religion(s) in the 21st Century –by- Ruel Pepa

The need for religions in the 21st Century –by- Lawrence JC Baron

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