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Messages - MsBlack

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General Discussion / Re: "On Self-Delusion and Bounded Rationality"
« on: August 07, 2010, 12:20:19 pm »
A philosophical horror story. And really, all I can do is encourage you to stick with it (it's not very long); it's a vessel for some interesting ideas. (And certainly if you bear with it, you will see that it could not possibly be irrelevant.)

General Discussion / Re: The $%*! frustration thread
« on: March 16, 2010, 01:12:40 am »
TK: Yeah, that one's a doozy. I bet you were using Internet Explorer though, weren't you? First port of call if you have to avoid those viruses is using alternative web browsers. You might need to use a USB stick to ferry files from CD's and so forth to this computer (that's what I had to do when my brother got that virus and had to restart everything).

General Discussion / Re: The "WTF? Check this link out!" thread!
« on: March 13, 2010, 12:00:33 pm »

General Discussion / Re: Abortion: This Should Be Fun
« on: March 11, 2010, 01:23:08 pm »
I should've insisted in the first place: The legal notion and treatment of personhood and the philosophical one are different. Try to indicate which y'all mean.

General Discussion / Re: The $%*! frustration thread
« on: March 10, 2010, 04:12:26 pm »
Thank you.

And thank you for your honesty. (Mostly for your honesty to yourself.)

But erm, did that withdrawal include your counterarguments in your most recent post, or 'just' the preceding ones? 'Cause if the latter...

General Discussion / Re: The "WTF? Check this link out!" thread!
« on: March 10, 2010, 02:53:20 pm »
Physics prof. smashes laptop with liquid nitrogen

Don't fuck with Physics Professors, yo!

General Discussion / Re: The $%*! frustration thread
« on: March 10, 2010, 02:37:59 pm »
Just post and your post will be moved too.

General Discussion / Re: The $%*! frustration thread
« on: March 10, 2010, 01:55:04 pm »
It seems like a lot of this disagreement is semantic...

While I agree that this is a fine point to assign personhood, I must still contend that there is no objective justification for it. It is a useful convenience, not an absolute. You point to the bio-mass's dependency on the host as justification, so I will note that other than processing its own oxygen, the biomass is equally dependent (both physically and legally) on the host. It cannot move effectively, it cannot maintain its own body temperature, it cannot sleep for extended periods of time for lack of energy stores. You say that an unborn baby is unable to exercise self-determination for want of basic abilities, so I will note that the same is true of a born biomass.

I think that what has been meant is that the nature of a foetus and the nature of the hose, taken together, are sufficient to justify killing the creature, since the will (in the most general sense) of the host trumps that of the foetus--the nature of the will being decided by the nature of the being. With what they are concerned is not just the one or just the other, but the difference in value between the will of the host and the will of the foetus. (Again, this is will in the generalized sense.) This is why 'personhood' is mentioned so much--because it determines the value placed upon the foetus's will and thus is paramount to deciding upon whether or not abortion is permissible.

Now, when the creature is born, the will of the host is no longer a factor, and there is no-one (whose opinion is of legal concern) who can say that the creature should be killed. (I trust it obvious that the host qua the host's wish for it to be killed is of legal concern.) It is assumed that the state is then responsible for ensuring the child's upbringing.

I think that better explains the pro-choice positions in this thread thus far.

That will play very nicely with the pro-life crowd. And to what gain is there?

If you can provide a superior alternative, your objection will be vindicated. Otherwise, it's just quibbling over how many grains of sand make a heap.

The majority of abortions occur in the first 13 weeks of pregnancy; if personhood was granted at the beginning of the start of the third trimester (which is around when the biomass becomes viable enough to live outside the host), it would not hinder a single one of those abortions. Is there a need to keep a biomass from having personhood at, say 35 weeks? 34? As long as there are considerations for the health and safety of the mother, there is a "grace period" of perhaps three or four weeks in this matter; personhood could be conferred at any time during that and I'd be amazed if even two abortions were prevented.

Now, see, this is an inferior alternative. There is a qualitative difference between the situations of a foetus and a newborn, as I and the others have explained. What you suggest here is a quantitative difference that doesn't actually agree with the pro-choice positions in this discussion thus far. So, such a cut-off point (for a formal, comprehensive overview of cut-off points, refer to Curb Your Enthusiasm, David et al., 2000) for abortion would be not only extremely tenuous but also inconsistent with many pro-abortion arguments. This would give anti-abortionists much more leverage than using birth does.

Your concern that pro-choicers don't appreciate the deeper questions is a good one, and you'd be right if you said that many haven't done the philosophical work to have a strong pro-full-term abortion position or that the prevailing pro-choice arguments are incomplete. However, the way you seem to be going about conveying these things is, ironically, overshadowing that message.

The disadvantages of basing any pro-choice argument on the specific time point of birth are great, while the advantages are few.

But you still haven't provided a better alternative.

As far as defensive positions go, "personhood at birth" is more of a sand castle than a Bastille.

Again: Our (to whomever 'our' may refer) concern is not with finding a 'perfect' solution, but with finding the best from an infinity of choices. Sand castle or not, the best proposal I've heard is birth, so that is with what I go.

But even a wiff of it as a justification for abortion is detrimental.

I don't understand you here, but it sounds like you might be here thinking that we see no qualitative difference between postnatal termination and abortion. If that's the case, you're thinkin' wrong.

The thrust of my argument is that any justification of abortion partially based on the nature of the unborn child is undesirable, ineffective, and ultimately harmful.

Can you provide a superior alternative method for determining the validity of abortion to the ones that refer to the nature of the foetus? The method I explained above that is concerned with the relative wills of the host and foetus and which I think pretty much represents the others' position is pretty strong.

But to me, as long as the baby is in a woman, it's a part of that woman. It is not yet an independent person--it is simply a part of the mother's body. And women should have the right to do whatever we wish with our own bodies. To me, the personhood debate is pointless at any time before birth. It's not yet a person. It's only a part of another person.

You seem to presume that the foetus being in the host means that it is 'part of the host' and therefore just like a nail or a hair or something. But later on, the foetus is so much more than any of those things and might even survive outside the host. Certainly it is inside the host, but it has a body of its own and, later on, is a separate organism by any vaguely sensible notion of 'organism' of which I know.

This is part of why I use words like 'host' and (though I haven't here) 'parasite'; they are more general, precise and accurate. For example, the foetus being (like) a 'parasite' shows how the host and the foetus are different organisms and much besides that we do well to remember in abortion arguments.

By denying the personhood of a biomass, pro-choicers are allowing that to be the point where pro-lifers are defending. It is giving them something to hide behind and it allows them to ignore the matter of a woman's rights. But if that is no longer the battlefield, what can pro-lifers hide behind?

The notion of personhood is important here as a way for the masses to approximate the idea of the differences between the host's will and the foetus's will. Similarly, the legal notion of personhood at birth is much more accessible than a comprehensive nuanced legal framework that accommodates full-term abortion.

It's like how one wouldn't have expected the early feminists to have used the relatively advanced feminist theory that has since developed to justify female suffrage; the basic notion of male-female voting equality was enough, and advanced theory actually would have been less productive. Or it would be like trying to introduce Quantum Mechanics to the Stone Ages; you wouldn't be able to make the people then see or understand your theory, and you'd be better off teaching them Classical Mechanics or so forth. (Note also in these analogies that the more powerful theories were built upon the earlier ones. There's something to be learned from that.)

One of the great criticisms of the pro-life side is that it is sexist. While this might be true in effect, it is much more clouded in practice. That is, it is very possible for a pro-lifer to focus on the "saving lives" aspect even if they might be horrified of the prospect of engaging in sexist behavior. But if that distraction disappears?

Yes. This is something that the pro-choice movement would do very well to observe more. The right have shifted the terms of much of the debate so that the pro-abortion side is defending itself from accusations of murder and so forth. Whereas, the terms of debate should be more in terms of the anti-abortion side putting the survival of a few stem cells (simplification but you get the idea) or a parasitic creature of instinct over the developed will of a definite person. If this horrific and horrifying view were seen, we could finally move on from scrapping for abortion rights.

But that tangent aside:

¡Hell yeah 'soon'-to-be Motherfucking Mr. Doctor Thought! :franky

General Discussion / Re: My daughter rests in the planet's dream.
« on: March 10, 2010, 12:55:43 pm »
I have no idea what to say, other than that you should know my regret and sympathy (even though not, of course, empathy).

General Discussion / Re: Ask A Liberal
« on: March 10, 2010, 12:03:01 pm »
If you're talking about the difference between, say, a House district election and the presidential election, then, no, there should be different levels of funding. A presidential race is decided by a hundred million people. A House race, more like a hundred thousand.

If you're talking about giving a slice of the pie to any old schmuck who decides to run for office, we can impose a few simple barriers to entry, petition signatures being an obvious choice, since that is already widely used in state initiative processes. Also, it would be unnecessary to place more than a few restrictions on volunteer work.

I meant how funding would be allocated in light of differences in campaign sizes within the same race. I can't find any figures for it, but I suppose that the size of McKinney's campaign (in units of persons), for example, in the 2008 Election was at least one order of magnitude less than Obama's or McCain's. In such cases, should all the campaigns receive the same absolute resources--on the understanding that the smaller campaigns could be more 'extravagant' pound-for-pound--or should there be a more complicated function for allocating resources?

Then there is also the question of whether or not these funds are allocated from an election kitty to each campaign at the start of the 'race', or if they are handed out to particular campaigns as their campaign grows in number.

I would suggest that each campaign should be promised specified amounts of resources for every milestone. For example, the first thousand people might have the campaign given very roughly a million dollars (with consideration of start-up costs); the next ten thousand another ten million and so forth or something. (This would be quite complicated due to all of the considerations of qualitative differences in campaign size progressions (a complicativity for which I offer no proof other than its very name--'qualitative differences in campaign size progressions'. Jesus. Fucking. Christ.))

This is because this seems superior to giving out resources at the start of the race, because such a system would be overly naive. Such an allocation would have to go on campaign size predictions, which would be based on precedent. However, I would guess that a small campaign could change in size by a significant fraction between elections, meaning that their allocation could be a significant misestimate. Big campaigns could change by smaller fractions between elections but, due to their relative enormity, even a small misestimate of size could lead to a substantial disparity in allocation. And the size of newcoming campaigns would be very hard to predict.

This would also seem to rule out just having an election kitty, because the size of this kitty would have to be based on campaign size predictions.

And then a third question that occurs to me is whether this would actually be done in terms of campaigns or if it would be done in terms of parties (presumably with independent candidates being an individual party for the purposes of this system). I don't know enough about the merits and demerits of having parties in the fist instance to have a strong position, but I would probably lean towards what seems to be the more idealistic approach, and try to break from parties and therefore do it on a campaign basis, as opposed to a party one.

And then there's the question of whether it should be done on campaign size or something else...

General Discussion / Re: Ask A Liberal
« on: March 10, 2010, 02:32:25 am »
The theoretical advantage of public financing is that, ideally, the best-run campaign, not the best-funded campaign, would win, and hopefully "best-run" would include the candidate's actual virtues as a human being and would-be legislator, rather than marketing savvy alone. I know there's a lot of wishful thinking inherent.

This seems to me to presume that all campaigns would be allotted the same campaign resources. Were this the case, this would mean that all campaigns (regardless of size) would receive the same resources. So we might have campaigns of sizes (in persons) of different orders of magnitude but that would still receive the same resources. Is this desirable?

That aside, I don't see that how well a campaign is run correlates with the preferability of that campaign. Perhaps you say this because of the renowned efficacy of the Obama campaign. However, this mustn't distract us from the efficacy of the Republican dogma; had the 2008 Republican campaign gone up against more typical Democratic opposition--Barry was a Democratic golden child, and Hillary seemed to be an uncommonly strong candidate too, even if not to the same level--it seems to me (based on my limited knowledge of U.S. Presidential Elections) very likely that the Elephant could've stomped.

That is: I don't think that there's a correlation between how well campaign resources are used and electoral success to which you could point as a theoretical advantage to public funding of elections.

The advantage I see to public-only financing of elections is simply that it avoids the problems caused by private financing themof.

Now, the complexities. Money advantages those who can raise the most of it, and can provide a powerful tool against incumbency. My solution: Eliminate the dangers of incumbency by imposing term limits. In fact, this is why I reversed my position on term limits: I did it so that public financing would be less naive.

You mean that public financing is presently naive because it automatically favours the incumbent, not giving a fair shake to challengers?

Also, how would you reconcile term limits with your own political ambitions?

Public financing would also shorten the election season, which nowadays is preposterously long at between eighteen months to two years, with "crunch time" consuming one year for presidential elections and half a year for other federal elections. Public financing would give legislators running for reelection more time to actually legislate.

Although, would there not also be a lot more government work created to ensure compliance with the rules governing use of campaign resources and to ensure that private funds weren't used? The latter could only be done by accounting for the government-allotted funds, which would have to be done, for the most part, well before elections would end (so that any anomalies could be investigated and dealt with before the election would conclude). This would mean that a lot of people would either have to be diverted from their usual government work or hired (I presume hired) from outside during every election cycle.

But yeah, I reckon such bureaucratic concerns would be minor, far from insurmountable.

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