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> > And by the way, speaking of abortion, isn't this also
> > counter-productive to evolution?
> Not really.  What is evolution's goal, such that abortion is
> counter to it?

Survival of the "fittest"?  8-)

> > > In the case of a police state, where physical power is centralized,
> > > there's always the possibility of subversion, infiltration, or, in
> > > the limit, human wave assault.
> >
> > This usually ends up with many dead humans.
> Yes.  But one ideal wins dominance.

Which ideal *ought* to win?  8-)

> > > To have a society is to grant that society rights over individuals.
> > > There is no such thing as a tyranny of one.  By your argument, all
> > > jailed tyrants should be freed, because it's tyranical to jail a
> > > tyrant.  But in freeing a tyrant to act upon your society, are you
> > > not therefore still tyranical, this time by proxy?
> >
> > Ah, the fallacy of the false dichotomy.
> Why is this dichotomy false?

Because maybe the rights of an individual end where they would conflict
with the rights of another.

> > I never advocated Dave's position any more than I advocated yours.
> > I don't define tyranny as being "not free".  With freedom comes
> > responsibility, and it is acknowledged that the state must be
> > granted some degree of power for the purpose of securing individual
> > rights.  This means putting tyrants in jail, and defining freedom
> > in such a way as that it excludes acts of wickedness.  For this we
> > need an external, objective standard of ethics.
> Not really.  All you need is a self-consistent system of ethics.

According to you, as long as people are willing to tolerate it,
*any* system of ethics is by definition self-consistent.  BTW,
why, on your worldview, is consistency necessary?

> > > Whoever the governed consent to have govern them.
> >
> > I would still like to know what "the greatest good for the greatest
> > number" means.
> It means whatever consensus says it means.

Do you apply this line of thinking to the laws of logic as well?
I assume not.  If this is indeed the case, why *ought* the laws
of logic be adhered to when opposing parties start disputing with
each other?

> > Sounds kind of like Marx, or Star Trek.  The problem,
> > or course, is who gets to decide what the "good."
> Whoever the governed consent to have govern them.

What I want to know is how consensus is arrived at.  I don't think
it can be done without appealing to a moral authority.

> > Well, let's take the logic of naturalism for example.  Recall that
> > naturalism attempts to account for everything on the basis that
> > all that exists is matter/energy and the operation of physical laws.
> >
> >   Premise A:  All current states of matter/energy are determined by
> >               the operation of physical laws on antecedent states
> >               of matter/energy.
> >   Premise B:  My current beliefs can be accounted for solely on
> >               naturalistic principles.
> >   Premise C:  Other people's beliefs can be accounted for solely on
> >               naturalistic principles.
> >
> >   Conclusion D:  All beliefs are pre-determined.
> So randomness is supernatural?  You conclusion is invalid, if
> naturalistic principles permit randomness.

Sorry, but your appeal to randomness does not save reason.  It is not
even clear what you mean by "randomness."  If what you mean is that
we cannot exactly ascertain with certainty a given energy, position,
or momentum, this does not invalidate the above conclusion.  What is
"chance"?  All you are saying is that we cannot know all the factors
that determine particular beliefs, but determined they are.  "Chance"
is a catch-all word that explains nothing at all.  Whether determined
by "chance" (whatever that is), or determined by the operation of
physical laws on antecedent states, beliefs are still determined,
they certainly *don't* have anything to do with whether or not they
comport with reason or truth.

> > IOW, you cannot get from electro-chemical reactions in the grey-matter
> > to the notion of "true belief" and "false belief".  All beliefs can
> > only be accounted for on naturalistic terms, therefore nobody can
> > say that their particular view of reality is true in the sense that
> > it is the actual state of affairs that obtains, but rather you
> > couln't help but believe what you believe, because that's just the
> > way the synapses fired in your brain.  And if someone else holds to
> > a diametrically opposed view, it cannot be deemed "false" since it
> > too is just the result of electro-chemical reactions in their brain.
> > In short, if naturalism is true, it could never be known to be true.
> > It would be like saying the Mississippi "knows" how to get to the
> > ocean, while Lake Michigan does not.
> You appear to be trying to recreate an example of Godel's
> incompleteness theorem, using a naturalistic example.  The
> problem with doing that is that naturalism recognizes Godel.

Call it what you want, you still haven't answered the difficulty.

> > And I've already anticipated your answer.  You will say that
> > reasoning abilities are "emergent".  To which I will respond,
> > "How?"  Please elaborate.
> I don't understand what your example has to do with the existance
> or non-existance of reasoning.  All you've really addressed is
> the idea that contradictory beliefs can be held by different
> people.  I would point out that the naturalist view is that these
> contradictory beliefs can be tested empirically, and if false, be
> falsified.

You've completely missed the reductio.  If naturalism is true,
every reason you give for maintaining your belief in naturalism
is itself determined by either chance or by the operation of
physical laws on the antecedent states of the synapses in your
brain.  Your falsification principle itself is suspect.  Nothing
like "reason" ever enters the picture.  Certain transcendental
states of affairs must obtain before your falsification principle
is even meaningful.  To cite the previous example, the Mississippi
does not, and cannot theororize and empirically test how it knows
how to get to the ocean.

> I think that many people apparently don't understand that the
> scientific process is about the falsification of hypotheses; a
> scientist does not *prove* things, a scientist only ever
> *disproves* things.

If you are a follower of Karl Popper.  I don't have any problem
with that, but his methods still rely on inductive reasoning,
which, as we see above isn't even possible on a naturalistic

> A hypothesis, if it has not yet been disproven, is still just
> a hypothesis, not Truth.

Does this include the hypothesis that science is about the
falsification of hypotheses?

> The standard we use to judge one hypothesis against another,
> if neither has yet been disproven, is that of simplicity: the
> simpler explanation is presumed to be the correct one, unless
> there is evidence to the contrary (thus falsifying the simpler
> explanation).

Again, I don't necessarily disagree with that method, but it
isn't even meaningful unless expressed within the context of a
worldview that provides for the preconditions for the possibility
of inductive reasoning.

> > > > Then I would have to ask to what end such "self-organizing systems"
> > > > attain?  Organizing into what?  For what purpose?
> > >
> > > Why does there have to be a purpose?
> >
> > If you say something has a teleological basis, it has a purpose by
> > definition.
> I think you are consuing teleology and theology?