Wednesday, November 20, 2019

From Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: Expectations + NEWS

Dear Friends,
 
This Sunday we are discussing: expectations.
 
Unfortunately, I cannot send the email tomorrow, Thursday, but I do have the essays on the topic by Mariona and myself. I am also including Ruel's blog url so you can check directly when he uploads his essay. Please keep checking for Ruel's essay; I will also add the link on the PhiloMadrid blog when I have it.
 
Expectations by Mariona
https://www.philomadrid.com/2019/11/expectations-essay-by-mariona.html
 
Expectations by Ruel (please check tomorrow)
https://ruelfpepa.wordpress.com/about/
 
Expectations by Lawrence
https://www.philomadrid.com/2019/11/expectations.html
 
NEWS
In the meantime I enclose news from Arthur and Shawn about their Bakery/Cake shop in Lavapies: something to look forward to!!
 
Hi everyone, sorry we didn't make it to the meetups lately but we got a new location in August and we finally launched our bakeshop a few weeks ago! For those interested in dropping by, it's called Tidbit and it's in Lavapiés (C. Dr. Fourquet 37).
It's more of a pastelería, so sweets (cupcakes, cookies, brownies, etc) but we also have sandwiches and coffee etc. www.tidbit.es See you soon!
 
Arthur and Shawn….
 
 
Best Lawrence
 
tel: 606081813
philomadrid@gmail.com
Blog: http://philomadrid.blogspot.com.es/  OR  PhiloMadrid.com
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: Expectations + NEWS
 
 
 
 
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Expectations

Expectations

There are two aspects to expectations: (1) what a reasonable or rational person would reasonably and rationally expect to happen. (2) What a person subjectively expects to happen based on experience, reason or randomly desires.

What is reasonable or rational might itself be subjective. The legal idea of what is reasonable (English common law) includes the idea that the reasonable person should consider how a prudent person would act: needless to say the subject is more complex than that. Moreover, what is prudent depends on the context of the situation. From our perspective the subjective factor maybe said to exist in the context aspect of what is reasonable. Does the context determine what is reasonable or does the person come to the context as a ready-made moral prudent person? A classical example is: would it be prudent and, therefore, reasonable for a person to collaborate with the commandant of a concentration camp to save one’s life? Indeed, how far can we argue that collaborating with the enemy is reasonable? In any event are situations of expectation always subjective since we cannot put ourselves into the actor’s context since this is by definition always subjective?

However, compare the legal doctrine of acting reasonably and strict or absolute liability: in a strict liability case the actor need not have the intention (mens rea) to be strictly liable for the act (actus reus).  Each jurisdiction has its own set of strict liability “criminal” acts such as selling products under weight, rape of sex.ual acts with someone under the age of consent, and so on. In other words, what is reasonable is not exactly something that we can easily engage in without problems.

There is also a difference between expectations, which strongly suggest that a certain context might exist in the future, for example a job interview, and finding one’s self in a context which is not anticipated and unreasonable to anticipate; e.g. trying to survive in a concentration camp. Maybe the Concentration camp dilemma is answered by such legal examples as cannibalism at sea and obeying orders.

A legal pointer might be the celebrated cannibalism-at-sea case of “R v Dudley and Stephens (1884) 14 QBD 273 DC is a leading English criminal case which established a precedent throughout the common law world that necessity is not a defence to a charge of murder” (Wikipedia). At the other extreme we have the defence of “obeying orders” also known as the, “Nuremberg Principle IV, "defense of superior orders" is not a defence for war crimes, although it might be a mitigating factor that could influence a sentencing authority to lessen the penalty.” (Wikipedia)

Fortunately we do not have to decide on the legal aspects of expectations, but what is clear is that expectations might not be as innocent looking as we might imagine: we do, however, ought to concern ourselves with the ethical and moral issues that arise from trying to be reasonable including acting reasonable in the legal sense.

What is rational depends once again on the context. In economics we find the idea of the person (rational agent) maximising one’s satisfaction or utility when choosing to buy something or do something. The issue with this definition is that someone might forego maximising one’s present satisfaction today in the expectations that such satisfaction might be stronger in the future. For example, I can buy a second hand sports car today or wait two months for a new sports car.

In psychology and behaviourism we have the principle of Delayed gratification and in economics we have time preference or time discounting (search terms on the internet).  Sure one can mathematically account in economics for time discounting, but I submit that in both cases we still face the issues of what is reasonable and what is pure subjective fantasy. In psychology we might defer trying to partner we someone we know in the hope that we might meet someone even better or at least someone who meets our expectations.

In philosophy we find the idea of rationality to include following valid argument based on logical arguments. Given that there are various forms of logic, from deductive reasoning, inductive logic, statistical analysis and fuzzy logic, we might fail to apply the right logic methodology given the context. A specific issue for us is what is the right logic to apply when acting on our expectations, maybe inductive or statistical logic, and what logic to apply to make value judgments. Whilst we accept that a general leading an army to get rid of an invader might use the most effective weapons, but are the general’s expectations curtailed by considering unnecessary deaths to this army and the enemy? 

What we expect, however, is different from what will actually happen and what can happen. What happens in the future is not necessarily caused by what we expect. This is not to say that our expectations might not lead us to act in such a way that at the end of the process what happens is what we expect. Students might expect to pass an exam and thus work harder at trying to pass the exam. But we also know what we can learn better by virtue of being fully motivated and committed. Thus what is causing us to be better learners: our expectations or our motivation? In any event, we usually fail to consider that our actions are a legitimate link in the causal chain of events; e.g. Heisenberg principle and maybe even the Pygmalion effect.

At the same time our expectations might fall foul to our lack or absence of relevant information, assumptions and the actions of others beyond our control. Although we accept that there isn’t an evil deceiver of the Cartesian kind, it does not mean that there aren’t people who wish us ill or will do us ill inadvertently. Indeed this is a real issue in inductive logic and statistical analysis. Bias and absence of relevant information can cause errors and miscalculations in our analysis.

By identifying the issues with what is reasonable, rational and moral will help us anticipate the pitfalls we might encounter in our legitimate deliberations about our future encounters.

In effect expectations have no causal link with reality. However, expectations are envisions of how our world will be like and how it will affect us. Another aspect of expectations is that our expectations are always in a context: indeed what would it be like to have expectations outside a given context? We might call these expectations a strong form of expectations. In other words, expectations that affect us directly and certainly expectations we have been working on to bring about or cause.

Soft expectations are events we would consider to be normal in our life, but do not have the status of strong expectations. For example, if we leave for the office at 8am we expect the traffic to be busy and the public transport packed with commuters. If we don’t find the metro full of people or the roads full of cars we might be surprised and wonder whether we missed something such as a public holiday or the countdown to Armageddon. These sorts of expectations are part of our daily life and if we didn’t have such reasonable regularity in our life we wouldn’t be able to function in a civilized society. Indeed that’s one of the main advantages of living in a civilized society: a certain degree regularity and stability, until that is someone or something make a mess of everything for us.

Whilst it is reasonable and rational to have a certain degree of expectations, as I have argued, not all expectations are made equally. There is no arguments or objection that the future is wild and uncertain, but for us what matters is how reasonable and rational are our expectations? And the issue of expectations is, therefore, a matter of epistemology first and certainly not a metaphysical problem only.

Best Lawrence





EXPECTATIONS Essay by Mariona


EXPECTATIONS

Essay by Mariona


When I was a kid I used to believe that when you expect something, it would happen. According to the psychologist Jean Piaget, children think that their thoughts or actions have a direct effect on the world. This is due to the fact that they do not differentiate the world around them and their subjective idea of it. For example, I used to think that if I was mad at someone, something bad would happen to him or her.  When we continue to grow up, we still receive stimuli that try to convince us that we can ‘control’ the world around us. I have heard a thousand times expressions like “if you are positive you will attract good things’’. It is difficult for us to accept that expecting something does not magically make it happen. Nevertheless, the expectations we had when we were young differ from the ones we currently have. The first type are what Piaget names ‘magical thinking’, the second ones are supported by good reasons to believe so, even probabilities. We can expect snow tomorrow, but we are not going to believe this expectation unless we have strong evidence for it. Otherwise, there would be disappointment.

I ask myself at this point: is our brain rational enough to avoid disappointments? If we rely on ‘magical thinking’ we are prone to get disappointed, as the probability that that event occurs is very low (or inexistent), and we do not have strong evidence that it will take place.  In my opinion, the answer is no. I have experienced many disappointments in my life: at a personal (friendships, i.e.), inner-self, academic and family levels. When I analyse each of them and try to find the origin of these, it is always me expecting too much of the different situations. Therefore, no, our brain does not have enough rationality to make us not believe some of the expectations we have and avoid disappointments. Maybe ‘magical thinking’ is not something that belongs to our first years alive, but we still turn to.

Expectations is a topic I talk about on a daily basis with the people around me. Through these past years I have realized that I have the same conversations with everyone: “I give too much to people, and they don’t respond the same way”, “I expected more of him/her”, “maybe I have too high standards, I should lower them”... These expectations appear in friendships or romantic relationships mostly. I assume this is due to the fact that we young people are more worried about these two aspects of our lives. Many times, I ask these people the same question: “have you told this person how you feel about it?”. Spoiler: the answer is usually no. The expectations we have of people is a deeper issue than expecting snow tomorrow. In the end, expectations are predictions. We predict a certain event because of different reasons: mere probabilities, because of how we acted ourselves, strong evidence, previous behaviours... But when dealing with other human beings, the variables are much more complex and changeable. Human interactions are normally what concern us the most because we are not able to predict them nor control them.  Another aspect to take into account, specifically about showing love or affection is subjectivism. We personally show love and affection in different ways. I learnt recently that there are different types of love language profiles: words of affection, physical touch, quality time, acts of service and receiving gifts. When we say, ‘I feel I give more than I receive in this relationship’ (relationship= any kind of human relationship), the problem might be that the two (or even more) people have two different profiles. Personally, I think we should keep in mind that each person has a different way to prove their feelings for someone. Maybe the solution for disappointments is not to lower our expectations, but rationalize them. Maybe the answer is simply communication, telling people what we expect from them. Most of the time we do not realize how people want us to act, how can we expect them to know how we want them to?


At this point, it seems like we went back to the “when you expect something, it will happen”. In the world of human interactions and expectations it is not as simple as communicating something and immediately seeing a change (or seeing a change at all). When communicating our wishes, the expectation is higher, thus the disappointment will be bigger. We enter a loop which we cannot escape.

In order to conclude my insights on expectations, I would like to quote Stephen Hawking: “my expectations were reduced to zero when I was 21. Everything since then has been a bonus”.

Mariona



Thursday, November 14, 2019

From Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: Success

Dear Friends,
 
This Sunday we are discussing: Success
 
Last time we discussed this topic was in 2015 so maybe it is time we had another look at the subject. You can find the essays by Ruel and I in the link below. And the links to our topic this Sunday are at the end of this message.
 
What is success?
https://www.philomadrid.com/2015/02/from-lawrence-sunday-philomadrid_12.html
 
New essays for this Sunday:
 
Success by Ruel
https://ruelfpepa.wordpress.com/2019/11/12/success/
 
Success by Lawrence
https://www.philomadrid.com/2019/11/success.html
 

Best Lawrence


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

 
 
 





 






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Success


Success

We discussed “what is success?” in 2015* and reading my essay again there is very little I would like to change. I still accept that there are two types of successes: (1) self set objectives and criteria to achieve such objectives and (2) socially set objectives and their criteria for success.  And more importantly socially set criteria are open to abuse and exploitation of people.

In this essay I want to briefly discuss three issues: how can assumptions we make in life affect our success? How does cheating affect success? And is success an amoral phenomenon?

There is no doubt that assumptions play a very important and key role in our lives. We start making assumptions from the minute we wake up till the time we go to sleep. What matters for our discussion are the assumptions we make in the context of our success. Unjustified self confidence, arrogance and hubris are mind sets and behaviours many people believe won’t affect their chances of success.

Indeed, one of the most important assumptions is the epistemological trap that is: if we are confident, and maybe even know, what it takes to achieve certain goals then we can achieve our objective unless some calamity befalls us.

Firstly we might think we know what it takes to achieve our objectives but maybe our knowledge is out of date, never mind misrepresenting reality. And more importantly, others might thwart our efforts either by accident or design. We should never underestimate the ability of others to thwart our efforts.

Cheating by us and others affect us in a number of ways. As I said in my previous essay, cheating is a decisive factor in the outcome of a success or not. One of the earliest instances of cheating in our lives is at school and university during exam time. I would argue that one of the problems with this form of cheating is that the educational system is not really geared at teaching how to learn but rather instructing to remember. This adds pressure on students to remember for the short term, but there are many reasons why someone might have issues remembering something in the short term such as an illness, diet, stress and so on.

Memory per se is not a measure of what we know. Knowing that we know is a more powerful state of mind than an ability to remember. Knowing that we know means that we have the ability and motivation to remind ourselves what we know and we know what it is that we know. Remembering, if you like, is just a memory of the syntax, maybe even semantics, of the knowledge in question. Knowing the said knowledge means ability to apply correctly said knowledge in the correct context.

Thus one of the motivations to cheat is that our success is dependent on conditions in a context that lend themselves to cheating. Basically, the system itself might lead us to cheat. But cheating to pass an exam or a meeting or even a sport does not necessarily mean one is proficient in that activity. Indeed, there are some subjects that one can cheat as much as one likes to “succeed” but one can never bluff one’s way to demonstrate one’s knowledge. Learning a second language is a very strong example of this point; people will just know whether you know the target language or not. Skiing and mountaineering might be relevant sports.

But in general cheating by others distorts the standards and criteria for success for everyone else. Those who do not cheat will be at a disadvantage because the information they have for success is based on a falsity: i.e. the epistemological trap I mentioned above.

My third and final point is the question of whether success is an amoral activity or phenomenon. If one cheats at exams and not discovered then one has achieved one’s objectives i.e. pass the exam. Sure, we might say that it is immoral and unethical behaviour which of course it is. But with a little help from the system the object was to pass the exam and not to be a moral person. We assumed that sitting for an exam would also elicit a moral behaviour. By the same token we might want to collect money for the poor and people contributed enough money to achieve our objective and hence our success. Sure, we might legitimately argue that this is a moral activity. But the issue is that the criteria (achieve objective = success) of success can apply to any objective whether it is good, bad or indifferent.

Does this mean that one’s success is nothing more than just a functional process of setting objectives and achieving them? Does success mean that passing exams or winning an Oscar is no more special than ordering a hamburger with chips?


*What is success?


Best Lawrence


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


Thursday, November 07, 2019

From Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: Cheating




Dear Friends,

This Sunday we are discussing: Cheating

Talking about cheating this today I am trying to send this email via MailChimp hoping that this service is more reliable at sending the email to everyone on the list than I am. It seems that I have missed a few people sending the email manually. Please let me know if you are reading this on the website because you did not receive the email: check your spam folder as well.

In the meantime the links to the essays are below:
On Cheating  --  Ruel
https://ruelfpepa.wordpress.com/2019/11/06/on-cheating/

Cheating  --  Lawrence
https://www.philomadrid.com/2019/11/cheating.html

Best Lawrence


tel: 606081813
philomadrid@gmail.com
Blog: http://philomadrid.blogspot.com.es/  OR  PhiloMadrid.com
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: Cheating












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