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Unread April 15th, 2006, 12:26 PM
Carey N Carey N is offline
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: New Jersey
Posts: 138
Default Re: Pinker's Blank Slate

Okay Fred - I hope you'll pardon my bad memory.

I would need to see the context in which I wrote down that quote you listed. Why was I putting the word "accidental" in quotation marks, for example? And what are those elipsis points replacing? At the moment, it just sounds wrong. Is that post still around, or do you have it saved somewhere?

Without intending to start this debate all over again, my position is that Occam's Razor would suggest that the universe was not created or inlfuenced by a Designer of any kind. Before you respond with your point about early low entropy, let me just say that no matter how complicated and remote the purely physical scenario might be for the beginning of the universe, it is vastly, vastly simpler than the position maintaining that some intelligent Being was there, instead. Hence my reference to Occam. In that sense, I don't see why an accidental universe, i.e., one not involving a Designer, wouldn't be compatible with evolution. In fact, the validity of evolution in the context of life on Earth doesn't even relate at all to the way in which the universe began. That's why I'm curious about the context and elipsis points in the quotation of mine that you posted.

TomJ’s honest-to-god atheism, OTH, is at least consistent enough to acknowledge that in the atheist’s world mass murderers can’t be “morally responsible” for their behavior and are “just following their [evolved] social instincts.”
Like you, I don't agree with Tom's stance on this subject. On the other hand, I don't feel that it's inconsistent to say that morality exists in the interaction between people, even in the absence of a Deity of some kind watching over us like a referee.

Again . . . without meaning to start up the debate all over again, my stance is that morality is a human construct . . . it's part of our biology ("social instincts"), and it is also subject to cultural evolution. On the one hand, yes, this means that morality doesn't really exist; but in every important way, morality exists as a property of human interaction. That's the view i remember maintaining in our debate, which is why that quote that you posted seems foreign to me. However, maybe you trumped me in that one, and I selectively blocked out the memory to bury the pain of defeat. Somehow I doubt it, though.

I wrote that the debate did not move more than a few yards because I think that our views remained pretty much diametrically opposed, no matter what each party said in counter-argument. In that sense, the front lines didn't move very much. I did not mean that nothing interesting was written.


Last edited by Carey N; April 15th, 2006 at 12:43 PM.
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