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post #9 of (permalink) Old 12-27-2010, 01:15 PM Thread Starter
True Grappler
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I'm hopping on a plane today to London, so I'll be gone for a while, but I'll make sure I respond to this thread (if no others) while I'm in the U.K.

I'm sorry, since it seems I'm dragging the argument off track. The only part that's really relevant to the original post is the discussion of free will, so if you want to just respond to that portion, you're welcome to.

As far as the virtue ethics stuff goes, I'm happy to either keep doing that or open up another thread. Or you could open up another thread. Either way.

Originally Posted by Liddellianenko View Post
But we don't, not in absolute terms. Preconditions are just one of the factors influencing decision-making and choice. I'm amazed at how easily you try to make unproven philosophical standpoints sound like scientific fact. There have been no conclusive scientific studies saying one way or another, determinism and in-determinism are both unproven hypothesis, there is no way to spout them out as a "consensus" or "accepted" scientific explanation. They are just postulations about possible ways that the universe works.
Clearly, I have taken away a stronger reading of the science than you have. I read Ramachandran, Arielly and others (like Dan Gilbert) and it's clear that all of them are coming to the conclusion that behavioral psychology is based heavily on preconditions and neurological framework.

But even if that weren't the case, it brings me back to my first claim, which is that the conception of "free will" is a logical impossibility, given the logical necessity of causation.

(P1) If behavior constitutes an effect caused by neural states, and (P2) neural states are, themselves caused by external states of affairs (and I have never read a single text that disputes that they are, though I'm happy to if you can point me towards it) then (C1) behavior is the result of a causal link originating outside of the neural states.

It's worth pointing out that you can replace "neural states" with "states of mind." I treat them exactly the same. Some people like to add a third premise which asserts that behavior is caused by "states of mind" which are caused by "neural states." I don't think that's right, but it brings you to the conclusion.

Why is it a logical impossibility? Obviously it's a much stronger claim that I'm making when I say that the strong reading of free will is a logical impossibility.

Because it is impossible for "states of mind" or "neural states" to constitute an origination in themselves. States of mind cannot exist without (and, as a result are dependent on) an experience of the world in order to be caused.

Neurology and psychology are very shallow disciplines to deal with the depths of these answers, it's like asking a car mechanic to answer the questions behind the atomic and quantum theory of the particles composing the car.
I'm not sure what you mean by this. Are you asserting that free will originates outside of the mind? Or that it exists on a much smaller level?

The fact that chemicals, atoms, composing particles etc. affect our moods/thoughts doesn't preclude the possibility of us affecting the release of the those chemicals, controlling atomic behaviors etc. with our will. Because at the lowest level currently known to science, the quantum level, things are not deterministic at all and at best probabilistic. That means that things can ALWAYS be one way or another, and through as yet undiscovered means there could be a hypothetical link between the paths made on the quantum level and our own control over it.
Again, you're missing my point. Hopefully the above clarified it. It's not that there isn't randomness (which is an entirely different can of worms), it's that the mind cannot originate a causal chain, because it is dependent on external stimuli to exist at all, and because (as a result) it's form is determined by external stimuli.

At what point exactly did I try to admit that as scientific evidence, or even use the word "evidence" next to the personal content?
You said "it's not scientific evidence." My point has nothing to do with science.

My point is, it's not evidence at all. I haven't used the word scientific at all in addressing it. Well... until just now.

I was making an argument, and emotional/personal content is very much relevant in our decision making even though you may try to sound like a scion of logic (most of which is based on flawed premise and debunked theories like LaPlace's demon instead of true science anyway).
Seriously, "true" science.

Of course we use personal experience in decision making.

Yes, LaPlace's demon is a flawed theory, it bases it's conclusion on the flawed premise that the paths of particles and their starting conditions being known, an infinitely intelligent entity can calculate all of reality past/present/future in a linear way, thereby negating free will. But the basic premise is flawed, because the paths of particles cannot be fully known, according to quantum physics, only probabilistically known. Thereby, the whole argument is empty.
If you'd like to argue that quantam theory undermine's perturbation theory, you're certainly welcome to, but

You would know this if you read the rebuttals section in your own wiki link. I'm amused that you keep saying "via LaPlace's demon" as if it's like saying "via Conservation of Energy" or some concrete scientific law instead of a flawed theory.
I'm in philosophy. I stick with logical principles. You seem to think that my argument is from science (hence the constant insertion of "scientific" where it wasn't in my argument before).

LaPlace's demon is the logical extension of causality. If you'd like to dispute causality, you're welcome to, but (again) that's off the point. You can basically argue the first argument about causal origination in mind, and it'd be much more interesting (and streamline this).

If you're point is that I shouldn't be referencing LaPlace's demon because it's not compatible with Heisenberg, that's fine, and I'll stop.

Well only 76% of Americans were reported as Christians in 08, and since that's been decreasing by about 1% a year I'd say it's about 74% right now. BUT, this is for the overall population the majority of which is skewed by the older age groups.

For adults under 35 (18-35) that compose "Generation Y" in America, only 64% are theists and less than 50% Christian. About 23% are absolutely non-religious/atheist. This is the reason you'll find a good majority of Atheist thinking in this and most online forums. Of those 50%, a big chunk are only nominal Christians and do not concern their day-to-day lives with that belief.
This is in conflict with which point of my point? I'm sorry, I don't see where you're going with this.

I stated: "The reality is, the vast majority of Americans and Brazilians are Christian, and the vast majority of modern MMA fighters come from those two countries, so there are bound to be some good examples."

Thanks for the number, but last I checked, 76% is "a vast majority."

It is this generation Y that is competing in MMA today and relevant to the point that I made. According to pure probability, it should be about half and half for Christians and non Theists at any level of MMA... but what we see is maybe one or two Atheists like Mike Thomas Brown while almost ALL the other champs and top levels are fairly devoted Christians. You can add the latest UFC champs Dominick Cruz and Jose Aldo to that list too btw. And by devoted I mean they try to live their daily lives by those virtues, thank God in interviews etc. and are not just paper Christians by birth. If you want I can show quotes by each one of those fighters to that effect.
There are five problems with this quote.

1) Not all MMA competitors are American. In fact, you explicitly named a non-American champion in your argument. It's not surprising that the two Brazilian champions in the UFC are practicing Catholics, though Anderson less than Aldo, from what I understand.

2) The difference (in American's ages 18-35) between "less than 50%" and "23%" (your numbers, not mine; I don't know where you're getting them, but I'm going to trust you because I don't want to check the Pew Forum) could be as much as... well, 24%.

3) You're going to assert that "thanking God in interviews" constitutes evidence of Christianity, then we're going to come to a divergence there.

4) "Maybe one or two atheists" is a pretty huge understatement. How do you identify if someone is an atheist? I'm suppose to show you that they don't thank God in their interviews? I'd be able to deputize about 70% of the UFC. But, obviously, that would be ridiculous.

5) There are plenty of atheists who are fighters who "live their daily lives by those virtues." Being an atheist in no way precludes the belief in or practice of virtue ethics. Being a Christian (even a "good Christian") doesn't necessitate it.

Also, as far as only America and Brazil being major competitors in MMA, that's not strictly true. You conveniently left out Japan, which is majority atheist/agnostic and a small percentage Buddhist etc., where arguably MMA and martial arts in general are even bigger than in America and Brazil. And yet, we see another statistical inconsistency ... no real consistent Japanese champ in MMA and most Japanese fighters getting destroyed and tossed out of the UFC, despite Japan having a THRIVING mma scene and arguably deeper historical martial arts base.
Again, there are a number of serious problems with this argument. But I'm going to return to my previous point:

Even if it were the case that all top ten fighters (to pick an arbitrary benchmark) in mixed martial arts were Christian. It wouldn't constitute evidence.

Just like the fact that Atheists make up a disproportionately low percentage of the prison population in this country (Christians are about the same place you put their population, usually about 74-78%) does absolutely nothing for arguing for the position.

If being a practicing Buddhist meant you had a 0% risk of going to prison and a 100% chance of being in the upper 1% in terms of income, it doesn't follow that the religion is true. That's not a valid step.

c'mon MTB might be a nice guy, but he isn't exactly a shining role model in terms of mma achievement... like barely touches the belt then gets destroyed in his first title defense and pummeled back down the ladder by Manny. I'm talking some of the most dominant champs in MMA history and you give me Mike Thomas Brown?
Again, my point was about the methodology of your argument.

I'm not saying Christianity guarantees perfection or goodness, I'm very much aware of less than ideal or hypocritical Christians like Hughes (even though I feel he's become a better person, not worse, since his conversion).
I actually really like Matt Hughes. He's been very nice to me the few times I've had passing conversations with him. He's hospitable and friendly. But I was making a point that being a douchebag and being a Christian are two totally compatible, causally independent states of being. As long as we're on the same page on that, I'm satisfied.

I even think that religious or not, a virtuous person will still reap the rewards of virtue (the humble, hard-working, respectful and virtuous family man, but not openly religious as far as I know, Cain Velasquez) ... I'm just saying that, by Christian thought, a connection to God will help you stick to virtue better in the face of temptation and adversity.
That's fine. An entire generation of my family is in Alcoholics Anonymous. But it's not an argument.

And my argument is that Virtue ethics has existed since time immemorial, even predating Hindu and Confucian philosophy, so Christianity has no worries about "stealing" it ... it just is, there's no patent on truth. Christianity just helps clarify it.
And now we get into the part where we see the relationship with the text, which is what matters.

Mark 7:5-7 He answered and said to them, "Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: 'This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'

Matt 15:1-3 "Then the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Jesus, saying, "Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread." He answered and said to them, "Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition?"
And, of course, in Mark 7:9 he goes on to say: “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!" and proceeds to go on an extended defense of Divine Command, which is necessarily independent of virtue ethics.

I'm not sure if that's omitted in Matthew.

Matt 23:1-5 "Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, saying: "The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do. For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do to be seen by men."
Actually, I read this the other way: Jesus is endorsing the ritual practices commanded by the priesthood, but asserting that the lifestyle decisions and violations of the law are independent.

It's an interesting reading, though.

Matt 23:25-26 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also.
I'm not sure how you read this as disowning ritual. Even if you take a very strong reading of this as an assertion that faith comes first (which I agree with as a reading) it still asserts that external cleanliness is important.

Yes exactly. My argument is that lack of virtue will destroy even the fruits of talent, hard work and previous virtue whereas those focused on virtue to some degree will continue to reap the benefits of happiness or success.

Tito is not that old, he is 35, far younger than any of the other "fallen champs", and hasn't won a fight since age 31 o boot. Yeah, the outward reason is that he hasn't evolved, but what allows the like of GSP, Fedor etc. to continually evolve and stay focused while the likes of arrogant Ortiz eat dust?
Well, let's start by removing St. Pierre as a reference. The guy is 29, and so of course he's still evolving. If you want to compare Ortiz to Fedor and say "why hasn't Ortiz evolved while Fedor has?" that's actually interesting.

Setting aside the easy defense, which is that "Fedor is Fedor," I actually think the more interesting logic is that Fedor has been able to go a lot further than Tito on the skill set he had originally, and while he has clearly evolved, he really hasn't evolved that much over the last five years. Since he fought CroCop, how much has Fedor's game evolved? Not much, really. It was awesome then, and it's awesome now.

Also, it's worth noting that have a large number of very serious surgeries does make it a little harder to compete in MMA. So Fedor has an advantage there, too.

What are you talking about? You said Moderation is based on circular logic, as in "what is the right amount? why it's what the right amount is!" kinda thing. I said it's not circular, the basis lies in biology / the human body, in terms of what is "too much" food/drink. You're throwing up from drink, that's excess. That's your body's red flag. Where's the circularity?
The problem is that the concept of "moderation" is so vague that you have to draw external limits for it to mean anything.

If I understand the concept of "too much" as the point when I "ought to stop drinking," which exists in all ethical systems (not just virtue ethics; it's built into the concept of "too much") then I defer to some sort of understanding of what too much is.

If I start throwing up, there's a reason it's a red flag: it's causing me pain and discomfort.

That's a great definition (and one I accept, personally, because it seems to keep my liver in tact) but it's a utilitarian definition. It's derived from an experience of the world, not an internal state of virtue.

The problem is that virtue ethics, with respect to temperance, generally (though not strictly) asserts that you ought not to drink to much, because you want to practice temperance. What is the function of practicing temperance? To keep yourself from drinking too much.

Actually, when this is taken in a really strict reading (as it is with AA) it's not circular. But, when they're abstaining entirely, they're actually not practicing temperance, they're practicing abstaining.

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