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  #71  
Unread April 18th, 2006, 10:13 AM
TomJrzk TomJrzk is offline
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Default Re: Pinker's Blank Slate

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fred H.
Indeed Tom, you would have a choice, and you would indeed be morally responsible.
I've often used 'choice' in the past. And noted that that choice is predetermined. My brain would use my instincts to be honorable and likeable.

Last edited by TomJrzk; April 18th, 2006 at 10:56 AM.
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  #72  
Unread April 19th, 2006, 01:27 PM
Margaret McGhee Margaret McGhee is offline
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Default Re: Pinker's Blank Slate

JimB, I had 7 hours on the plane to carefully re-read the first five chapters. When I said before that I didn't think he made his case - I think what I meant was that I was looking for reasons why I should become a partisan for the gen-det pov. (Not that I would.) But, I still didn't see that.

I did see a listing of the absurdities and errors of the standard social model - and I mostly concur where the blank slate is invoked. While those might elicit a right on from the partisans they don't make the case for me.

I was looking for examples of the destruction to humanity and real social problems caused by that view. Where is the danger in approaching education from the premise that all children have an equal capacity to learn in the right environment, for example - or in assuming that African nations could adopt democracy under the right conditions - silly liberal things ike that.

To me it's the yin-yang thing. Society goes back on forth. Right now the gen-detters are ascending and the culture-detters are declining. You guys have tremendous political power right now - you're just pissed off because so many in academia are not being intimidated enough. Be patient. This reformation is far from over.

I'll keep thinking about it but it would be good for you to clarify this pov for me and explain what I'm not seeing. Like, what's the war about - other than our side good, the other side bad? I think there is some truth to both views.

Margaret

Last edited by Margaret McGhee; April 20th, 2006 at 01:28 AM.
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  #73  
Unread April 20th, 2006, 12:53 PM
Margaret McGhee Margaret McGhee is offline
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Default Re: Pinker's Blank Slate

I started in to chapter 6 and suddenly I'm seeing the argument I was looking for in 1 thru 5. 1 -5 is where Pinker says he lays out the argument and the rest is where he says he discusses the implications. Oh well.

This makes more sense to me. I am now getting an idea of the intensity of the debate (including Gould's participation in it) at the academic level - which I was never really aware of. I am seeing the intensity of Gould's ideology (admittedly from his opponents' side). But, interesting stuff. I'll keep you posted.

Margaret
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  #74  
Unread April 26th, 2006, 05:33 PM
Margaret McGhee Margaret McGhee is offline
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Default Re: Pinker's Blank Slate

JimB,

Home again in the Seattle cold and rain. What a change after snorkeling in 74 degree water (82 degree air) this time yesterday and watching Eagle Rays glide over the reef near the boat harbor entrance by Kailua-Kona.

I've read through Part I and Part II (Fear and Loathing) twice now - and I'm well into the second read of Part III. Yes, He has now made a case for his premise - and I agree with it almost completely. I had no idea that Gould was so ideological as I was never really exposed to the academic war that was happening over the last 20 years. I read books by Evolutionary Psychologists like Wright and I read books by Gould - but I never realized they were in opposition. I assumed that if they didn't appear to agree around the edges it was because I just didn't understand fully what they were saying. (Probably true in any case.)

It was inconceivable to me that two such learned experts would disagree on the fundamentals - or that Gould's position was so blatantly political (according to Pinker which I now provisionally accept). I think I was under the thrall of the conventional wisdom - as Pinker describes in this book - and discounted my understanding of The Moral Animal.

I have more chapters to read but I am seeing a much different view than before I started this book. I think I have always been on Pinker's side of the debate but didn't realize there were two sides to be on - until recently getting attacked for apparently being on Gould's side in this forum.

He makes crystal clear the difference between understanding human nature through the effects of genes - and discrimination against races, genders, etc. - as in no way being justified, no matter what the genetic puzzle yields. I am still cautious about the implications.

Stuff deleted here as past history. Moving on . . .

Note that I have changed a belief - actually I am modifying a set of related beliefs. This is not something that one does easily - an idea I hope to develop more fully in my thread on my Somatic Behavior Choice Hypothesis.

Margaret

Last edited by Margaret McGhee; April 27th, 2006 at 12:19 AM.
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  #75  
Unread April 27th, 2006, 11:16 AM
Fred H. Fred H. is offline
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Default Re: Pinker's Blank Slate

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MM: Note that I have changed a belief - actually I am modifying a set of related beliefs.
Congratulations. It’s called downward causation—seems you have some free will after all.

And keep in mind that “discrimination” not being “justified” is a moral issue—a moral choice contrary to our innate social instincts. For we see “discrimination” in nature all the time, except that it’s called “selection.” Natural selection includes sexual selection, ecological selection, stabilizing selection, disruptive selection, directional selection, etc. And then there is so-called “artificial selection,” wherein we humans get involved in the breeding of plants, animals, etc.
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  #76  
Unread April 27th, 2006, 01:14 PM
TomJrzk TomJrzk is offline
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Default Re: Pinker's Blank Slate

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Originally Posted by Fred H.
And keep in mind that “discrimination” not being “justified” is a moral issue—a moral choice contrary to our innate social instincts.
“discrimination” not being “justified” is just a matter of the social instinct called 'fairness', so it's not "contrary to our innate social instincts"; it's one of them.

I'll grant you, though, that not all humans have the same measure of the same instincts. That's why we have psychopaths and laws; and why I don't tilt against the good religions: some people need the threat of an omnicient, omnipotent fictional friend to overcome their lack of an instinctive concern for others.
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  #77  
Unread May 5th, 2006, 12:21 PM
Margaret McGhee Margaret McGhee is offline
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Default Re: Pinker's Blank Slate

I previously stated that Chapter 10, The Fear of Determinism, was one of the best discussions of free will and determinism I have read. I still believe that. However, after reading it for the third time, I find that I disagree with one of Pinker's assertions in that chapter.

When discussing deterrence, on page 183, he states,
Quote:
The problem with broad-spectrum deterrents is that they catch innocent prople in their nets, people who could not have been deterred from committing an undesirable act to start with (such as the kin of the man who pulled the trigger, or a bystander in a lightning storm that kills the Godfather's son). Since punishment of these innocents could not possibly deter other people like them, the harm has no compensating benefit even in the long run and we consider it unjustified.
This statement was part of his discussion of the "The Deterrence Paradox" whereby the threat of punishment can deter behavior, but once the behavior is committed the punishment can no longer deter it. It can only be seen as sadism or an illogical desire to make the threat credible retroactively.

While I agree with his resolution of the paradox (on page 181), I would assert that punishing the kin of the man who pulled the trigger is often seen as effective discouragement of undesirable behavior for those who don't wish to see their family killed. Saddam Hussein seems to have understood this principle well - which is probably why he was able to hold power in Iraq for as long as he did.

Aside from deterrence, it would also seem that destroying those who share the genes of your enemy would be explainable in some evolutionary psycholgical sense - which is why I'm surprised he missed this.

I still firmly agree with the main point of this chapter whereby he dispels the two fallacies . .

a) . . that biological explanations corrode responsibilty in a way that environmental explanations do not.

b) . . that causal explanations (both biological and environmental) corrode responsibility in a way that a belief in an uncaused (free) will or soul does not.

Margaret

Last edited by Margaret McGhee; May 5th, 2006 at 01:27 PM.
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