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Atheistic Morality

Atheistic Morality
(09-06-2020, 06:07 PM)Bcat Wrote: I agree that animals can notice different quantities of objects and that some monkeys are able to count and that other animals can be trained to count--I've read that before as well.  I think I should have been more clear in my post (it was pre-latte   Tongue ) I was referring to the concept or "language" of math that humans came up with to describe the world around us.
I'm not sure that the language—whether the words we use when talking about it or the advanced symbologies used by Russell and Whitehead, Gödel, Hilbert, Wiles, et al.—is actually relevant to the underlying mathematics.  I'm inclined to think that the math is just there, waiting for someone to notice it, rather than create it.

Side note: the book is brain-hurty, but in a good way—Gödel's Proof by Nagel and Newman, with a foreword by Douglas Hofstadter.  Gödel's great insight was that mathematics was a sufficiently complex system that it could be made to talk about itself, its rules and its properties, and not merely operate under them. Mathematics is its own meta-language, in a sense.
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Atheistic Morality
(09-06-2020, 06:12 PM)Free Wrote:
(09-06-2020, 05:12 PM)Bcat Wrote:
(09-06-2020, 05:01 PM)Free Wrote: Would ". + . = .." everywhere in the universe?

To us, yes it would but that's because we came up with the concept and it is what is true to us.  To other animals, the concept has no meaning.  

When squirrels prepare for the winter, why do they gather more nuts than just one? How do they know what is more than one? How does a lioness know that one of her three cubs is missing, and then goes looking for it?

I definitely think animals can notice quantities of things.  I think I should have used a different term than "concept."  I should have used the "language" of math, which is something we as humans developed to express the world around us through mathematical statements.
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(09-06-2020, 06:33 PM)trdsf Wrote:
(09-06-2020, 06:07 PM)Bcat Wrote: I agree that animals can notice different quantities of objects and that some monkeys are able to count and that other animals can be trained to count--I've read that before as well.  I think I should have been more clear in my post (it was pre-latte   Tongue ) I was referring to the concept or "language" of math that humans came up with to describe the world around us.
I'm not sure that the language—whether the words we use when talking about it or the advanced symbologies used by Russell and Whitehead, Gödel, Hilbert, Wiles, et al.—is actually relevant to the underlying mathematics.  I'm inclined to think that the math is just there, waiting for someone to notice it, rather than create it.

Side note: the book is brain-hurty, but in a good way—Gödel's Proof by Nagel and Newman, with a foreword by Douglas Hofstadter.  Gödel's great insight was that mathematics was a sufficiently complex system that it could be made to talk about itself, its rules and its properties, and not merely operate under them.  Mathematics is its own meta-language, in a sense.

I actually had a thread awhile back asking people's thoughts on whether they thought Math was created, discovered, or a combination of both.  Definitely had some interesting replies! Smile  I'm of the non-Platonist position, but the thread was interesting because there really are so many points that can be argued from either position.
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Atheistic Morality
(09-06-2020, 06:49 PM)Bcat Wrote:
(09-06-2020, 06:33 PM)trdsf Wrote:
(09-06-2020, 06:07 PM)Bcat Wrote: I agree that animals can notice different quantities of objects and that some monkeys are able to count and that other animals can be trained to count--I've read that before as well.  I think I should have been more clear in my post (it was pre-latte   Tongue ) I was referring to the concept or "language" of math that humans came up with to describe the world around us.
I'm not sure that the language—whether the words we use when talking about it or the advanced symbologies used by Russell and Whitehead, Gödel, Hilbert, Wiles, et al.—is actually relevant to the underlying mathematics.  I'm inclined to think that the math is just there, waiting for someone to notice it, rather than create it.

Side note: the book is brain-hurty, but in a good way—Gödel's Proof by Nagel and Newman, with a foreword by Douglas Hofstadter.  Gödel's great insight was that mathematics was a sufficiently complex system that it could be made to talk about itself, its rules and its properties, and not merely operate under them.  Mathematics is its own meta-language, in a sense.

I actually had a thread awhile back asking people's thoughts on whether they thought Math was created, discovered, or a combination of both.  Definitely had some interesting replies! Smile  I'm of the non-Platonist position, but the thread was interesting because there really are so many points that can be argued from either position.

That's exactly why I get involved in these types of discussions. What do I know? Not much. But I do know enough to ask questions and test out the theories presented, including my own, just to see what appeals to me as logical, reasonable, and acceptable.
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Atheistic Morality
(09-06-2020, 07:01 PM)Free Wrote:
(09-06-2020, 06:49 PM)Bcat Wrote:
(09-06-2020, 06:33 PM)trdsf Wrote: I'm not sure that the language—whether the words we use when talking about it or the advanced symbologies used by Russell and Whitehead, Gödel, Hilbert, Wiles, et al.—is actually relevant to the underlying mathematics.  I'm inclined to think that the math is just there, waiting for someone to notice it, rather than create it.

Side note: the book is brain-hurty, but in a good way—Gödel's Proof by Nagel and Newman, with a foreword by Douglas Hofstadter.  Gödel's great insight was that mathematics was a sufficiently complex system that it could be made to talk about itself, its rules and its properties, and not merely operate under them.  Mathematics is its own meta-language, in a sense.

I actually had a thread awhile back asking people's thoughts on whether they thought Math was created, discovered, or a combination of both.  Definitely had some interesting replies! Smile  I'm of the non-Platonist position, but the thread was interesting because there really are so many points that can be argued from either position.

That's exactly why I get involved in these types of discussions. What do I know? Not much. But I do know enough to ask questions and test out the theories presented, including my own, just to see what appeals to me as logical, reasonable, and acceptable.

That's why I like these too  Smile I like to be challenged as to why I think certain things and it's always good to question and to look at things differently, sometimes it has changed the way I look at things.  I also like that people are being respectful in their point of views.  It's definitely possible to disagree without being disrespectful of others.  And, btw, I do think you make logical and reasonable points even though we disagree on some things  Smile
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(09-06-2020, 04:07 PM)Free Wrote:
(09-06-2020, 03:12 PM)Thumpalumpacus Wrote:
(09-06-2020, 03:09 PM)Free Wrote: Before any humans ever existed, did 1 + 1 = 2  in nature?

Ask the first multicellular animal. Did it need to know addition to exceed a one-celled body?

No, and that's my point.

1+1=2 is a human symbolic representation of what has always existed in nature. It's all about "more" or "less." Any solitary thing in existence is self evident whether we observe it or not because existence has primacy over consciousness. Once any solitary thing has been combined with another solitary thing, we have the "more."

That is an axiomatic truth.

The fact exists outside of human perception, but "1+1=2" is definitional by human construct. That is the way we have massaged our arithmetic, to mirror the universe in a numerical abstract.
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(09-06-2020, 04:42 PM)Bcat Wrote:
(09-06-2020, 03:12 PM)Thumpalumpacus Wrote:
(09-06-2020, 03:09 PM)Free Wrote: Before any humans ever existed, did 1 + 1 = 2  in nature?

Ask the first multicellular animal. Did it need to know addition to exceed a one-celled body?

While 1 + 1 = 2 was a human invention, it still meets the definition of an axiom:

(1) It is regarded as being established and accepted.  The concept of 1 + 1 = 2 has been in use by our society (and even before our society) for a long time and it is an accepted concept among society.

(2) It is self-evidently true.  If someone says they have two of something, we know what they mean.

Aren't both those examples simply restatements of facts in mathematical language? They are accepted because that is how we define those facts in order for our math to work in this universe.

That's not to say that in any language (mathematical or not) 1+1 =/= 2. But we have designed the definitions in our mathematical language .

For a long time we thought the sum of the interior angles of a triangle must be 180°. But that was because the unquestioned premise (i.e., axiom) was that geometry had to be planar. Once we considered three-dimensional geometry, it was obvious that axiom was an accepted starting-point for dealing with triangles, rather than an actual fact -- especially once we discovered that space-time is curved.

As Godel pointed out, one cannot prove the veracity of a system inside that system itself. That system will start with axioms that cannot be shown true inside that system.
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(09-06-2020, 06:12 PM)Free Wrote: How does a lioness know that one of her three cubs is missing, and then goes looking for it?

Not that it's very pertinent to this discussion, but I'd imagine that missing the cub's unique smell plays at least a large a part as counting, if not more.
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(09-06-2020, 10:01 PM)Thumpalumpacus Wrote:
(09-06-2020, 04:42 PM)Bcat Wrote:
(09-06-2020, 03:12 PM)Thumpalumpacus Wrote: Ask the first multicellular animal. Did it need to know addition to exceed a one-celled body?

While 1 + 1 = 2 was a human invention, it still meets the definition of an axiom:

(1) It is regarded as being established and accepted.  The concept of 1 + 1 = 2 has been in use by our society (and even before our society) for a long time and it is an accepted concept among society.

(2) It is self-evidently true.  If someone says they have two of something, we know what they mean.

Aren't both those examples simply restatements of facts in mathematical language? They are accepted because that is how we define those facts in order for our math to work in this universe.

That's not to say that in any language (mathematical or not) 1+1 =/= 2. But we have designed the definitions in our mathematical language .

For a long time we thought the sum of the interior angles of a triangle must be 180°. But that was because the unquestioned premise (i.e., axiom) was that geometry had to be planar. Once we considered three-dimensional geometry, it was obvious that axiom was an accepted starting-point for dealing with triangles, rather than an actual fact -- especially once we discovered that space-time is curved.

As Godel pointed out, one cannot prove the veracity of a system inside that system itself. That system will start with axioms that cannot be shown true inside that system.

I agree, it's a human construct, but the definition of an axiom (even though part of our construct) is still what it is because that's what we defined it to be (rightfully or wrongfully).
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Atheistic Morality
(09-06-2020, 07:01 PM)Free Wrote:
(09-06-2020, 06:49 PM)Bcat Wrote:
(09-06-2020, 06:33 PM)trdsf Wrote: I'm not sure that the language—whether the words we use when talking about it or the advanced symbologies used by Russell and Whitehead, Gödel, Hilbert, Wiles, et al.—is actually relevant to the underlying mathematics.  I'm inclined to think that the math is just there, waiting for someone to notice it, rather than create it.

Side note: the book is brain-hurty, but in a good way—Gödel's Proof by Nagel and Newman, with a foreword by Douglas Hofstadter.  Gödel's great insight was that mathematics was a sufficiently complex system that it could be made to talk about itself, its rules and its properties, and not merely operate under them.  Mathematics is its own meta-language, in a sense.

I actually had a thread awhile back asking people's thoughts on whether they thought Math was created, discovered, or a combination of both.  Definitely had some interesting replies! Smile  I'm of the non-Platonist position, but the thread was interesting because there really are so many points that can be argued from either position.

That's exactly why I get involved in these types of discussions. What do I know? Not much. But I do know enough to ask questions and test out the theories presented, including my own, just to see what appeals to me as logical, reasonable, and acceptable.

As the last of my string of run-on answers, I just wanted to say I appreciate this discussion, because it's given me food for thought and that is always appreciated.
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Atheistic Morality
(09-05-2020, 11:59 PM)Free Wrote:
(09-05-2020, 09:02 PM)Chas Wrote:
(09-05-2020, 05:21 PM)Free Wrote: Because it's an axiomatic truth.

At the moment the earliest human placed one stick down beside another he knew there was more than one. No belief was required.

It is not an axiomatic truth, it is an analytic truth.  It is derived.

It can be both.

1+1=2 is true on its face.

Prima facie and axiomatic are not the same thing.  You are misusing axiomatic.
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Atheistic Morality
(09-06-2020, 02:19 AM)Thumpalumpacus Wrote:
(09-06-2020, 02:02 AM)Free Wrote:
(09-06-2020, 01:31 AM)Thumpalumpacus Wrote: It is not an axiom because we see the difference between one and two in reality. Axioms are premises assumed, not proven. Proven premises are (in mathematics) theorems or (in science) theories.

1+1=2 is proven, not assumed.

But my point is that even if it is proven, how then is the result of 1 + 1 = 2 (2 being the result) not self-evident or unquestionable?

Are you saying that which has been proven to be true cannot be self evidently true once the result has been learned? Or, that all axiomatic truths must be assumed?

By definition, all axiomatic truths are assumed. At very best, they are regarded as "self-evident", which is pretty circular.

For instance, science has a couple of basic axioms:

There is an objective Universe apart from human perception

and

This Universe operates in an orderly and comprehensible manner.

Neither of those two are proven. We accept them as working standards because without them nothing would get done. I'd say the evidence is pretty strong that both are true, but being unproven, the revert to being working assumptions.

I believe both statements are true, but I can't prove that to be the case.

We also accept scientific and mathematical axioms because applied science (technology) and mathematics comport themselves very well with lived experience and the real world. They WORK. They get things done.

If there were something wrong, at least at anywhere near human scale, with these axioms, they would produce leaky abstractions rather than ones that work with precision.
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As long as a theory can analyse past data and predict the outcome of a certain event it works. It an be wrong but it can work. Think about heat transferement before thermodynamic. There was the phlogiston theory and it worked until new more precise measurements showed it was wrong and the thermodynamic evolved. From traditional themodynamic we went to quantum theory.
A "theory" is something that offer a coherent interpretation of the observed data and it is able to make predictions, no more & no less
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(09-07-2020, 12:02 PM)Ausländer Wrote: As long as a theory can analyse past data and predict the outcome of a certain event it works. It an be wrong but it can work. Think about heat transferement before thermodynamic. There was the phlogiston theory and it worked until new more precise measurements showed it was wrong and the thermodynamic evolved. From traditional themodynamic we went to quantum theory.
A "theory" is something that offer a coherent interpretation of the observed data and it is able to make predictions, no more & no less

Yes, a hypothesis about how something works can be merely adequate for practical purposes. Quantum electrodynamics in particular simply extends that accuracy from practical to extreme scales.

Newtownian physics is still used to do a lot of practical work -- even orbital mechanics -- despite that it has been superseded by relativity and quantum.
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Regarding 1+1=2...

My 8th grade algebra teacher offerred an outright "A" (no further tests or attendence required to anyone of us who could PROVE that was true. Of course I tried. And of course I couldn't. It is logical in the sense that we can see 2 objects and say "two", but that is just language and/or logic. My 19th grade Geometry teacher offerred something the same about plane triangles.

Some things are "axioms" for a reason. They are unprovable yet obvious.
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(09-07-2020, 09:51 AM)Chas Wrote:
(09-05-2020, 11:59 PM)Free Wrote:
(09-05-2020, 09:02 PM)Chas Wrote: It is not an axiomatic truth, it is an analytic truth.  It is derived.

It can be both.

1+1=2 is true on its face.

Prima facie and axiomatic are not the same thing.  You are misusing axiomatic.

How is ".+.=.." not self evident?
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Atheistic Morality
(09-07-2020, 06:10 PM)Free Wrote:
(09-07-2020, 09:51 AM)Chas Wrote:
(09-05-2020, 11:59 PM)Free Wrote: It can be both.

1+1=2 is true on its face.

Prima facie and axiomatic are not the same thing.  You are misusing axiomatic.

How is ".+.=.." not self evident?

"Self-evident" and "provable" are not the same thing. "Self-evident" can be entirely wrong.

You are sitting in a chair and you are obviously not moving. Yet you are spinning around the Earht at about 1,000 mph at the equater and maybe 800 mph where you live. You feel no movement (well, unless you have been drinking too much). Whirling around the star Sol at 67,000 mph, and Sol is orbiting the Milky Way galaxy, etc.

Yet until recently, we all thought (self-evidentally) we weren't moving at all. "Self-evident" is a funny thing, isn't it?
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(08-30-2020, 02:58 PM)Alan V Wrote: There have been quite a few heated political discussions in this forum, which is to be expected in a year with a big U.S. election.  However, one issue which has puzzled me again and again is how certain atheists "lay down the law" with moral arguments without explaining, exactly, what is the basis of their strong moral position on certain issues.

I would assume most of us atheists understand the world is naturalistic rather than idealistic, that morality is derived from human interests and not some higher power, and that human interests vary between communities rather than being absolute in themselves.  How, then, can atheists take such strong moral stands?  Do they think that politics is somehow independent of political philosophy and ethics?  Are they merely conditioned to certain slogans, like the people they so often oppose?

How do we justify the authoritarian tone of so many of our political discussions?

Same spot believers did.  its coded in.
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(09-18-2020, 10:23 PM)Scoop Wrote:
(08-30-2020, 02:58 PM)Alan V Wrote: There have been quite a few heated political discussions in this forum, which is to be expected in a year with a big U.S. election.  However, one issue which has puzzled me again and again is how certain atheists "lay down the law" with moral arguments without explaining, exactly, what is the basis of their strong moral position on certain issues.

I would assume most of us atheists understand the world is naturalistic rather than idealistic, that morality is derived from human interests and not some higher power, and that human interests vary between communities rather than being absolute in themselves.  How, then, can atheists take such strong moral stands?  Do they think that politics is somehow independent of political philosophy and ethics?  Are they merely conditioned to certain slogans, like the people they so often oppose?

How do we justify the authoritarian tone of so many of our political discussions?

Same spot believers did.  its coded in.

Competition for power. It is mostly an ammoral game to some people.,
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Atheistic Morality
It is actually the same misattribution as many theists engage in.

Mere disagreement = existential threat. Defend as if your very existence depended on it.

Part of the problem is that if for example I disagree with you, by implication I think you're wrong and I'm right. It is easy, if you have ego invested, to assume that I therefore judge you to be an idiot / am out to get you / want to control you. This is triply true if, as is the case with theists, I have an intellectually sound leg to stand on and you don't, yet you want to defend the indefensible because you're invested in it and your social standing and peace of mind depends on it.

None of these perceived dependencies is my problem however. It is the problem of the defender.

None of this means I'm "authoritarian" for in even the mildest way challenging your thinking.

When it comes to politics, and to political parties or factions within parties, people tend to defend these for the same reasons theists defend religious dogma: it's easier to dismiss other lines of thinking than to admit even the possibility that your views are not entirely defensible.

As a progressive I see this among progressives, so I'm not suggesting it's unique to those to my right by any means. What I AM willing to say is that I don't see much in the way of intellectually honest debate from my right. The best I generally see is "I agree with you in principle but not pragmatically" which is fine in theory, but the pragmatic / incremental approach is often indistinguishable in practice from not agreeing even in principle, as it seldom results in any actual change at remotely the rate demanded by the multiple existential crises that we currently face.

Even that would be fine (if tragically misguided) but for the fact that nothing short of "shut the fuck up" is considered socially acceptable by those on my right. Even independents get tired of the expression of progressive policy if it is not up for active vote because they consider it unactionable and so just want to channel their passion into disparaging the far right / GOP. If you average out everything said about candidates like Biden, it all amounts to "he's not great, but Trump is far worse" as an excuse for supporting a not-great candidate. "But Trump", however, is not a sustainable argument for expanding the liberal cause, it is just a way to more polarization. What I harp on is that we have to offer something POSITIVE and ATTRACTIVE to GROW the party rather than allowing our opponents to frame and constrain every debate. Otherwise there's literally no point in the medium to long term -- and often, even in the short term.

There's another dimension to this: that of tribalism. If you believe that group conformity and public solidarity is crucially important then you tend to accept group decisions as both invalidating and foreclosing on dissenting views.

If SCOTUS operated that way, the justices would take a vote and then all nine of them would write briefs in lockstep with the consensus vote even if they personally disagreed. We'd never see a dissenting opinion; it would be quashed as contrary to and disrespectful of the majority. Today, we're processing the death of RBG; are we not lauding her "fiery dissent" in this and that case where she was in the minority? Would jurisprudence not be impoverished without those "fiery dissents" -- without the implicit acknowledgment (and epistemological humility!) that judicial decisions are imperfect and sometimes WRONG?

Put another way: Is it correct to implicitly assume that a vote in favor of X -- even if the margin isn't very close -- inherently RIGHT and beyond criticism? That resistance or critique is, in fact, gauche or outright wrong?

The general ethos of Democratic moderates / centrists in my observation and experience is that when someone loses a primary or election or legislative vote, they are supposed to meekly fold their cards and take up the cause of the victors as if they have been proven wrong and completely and finally answered. The most the "loser" can hope for is another magnanimous "chance" in the next cycle. Conveniently forgetting that if the "loser" had a good faith moral conviction for their position before that vote, it doesn't magically vanish after. They have (to bring this back entirely on-topic) a MORAL imperative to continue to advocate for their MORAL and ETHICAL convictions, which, if they are genuine, don't simply vanish until the next vote or election cycle.

Moderates might also wish to ponder that by their "winner take all" logic in political matters, they have no basis to criticize Trumpism and in fact have an obligation to be Trumpists themselves, at least until the next election.
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My sister-in-law won't let her kids talk to me because I'm an atheist. My oldest nephew asked her "What does that matter?"

Apparently, I'm immoral just because.
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