Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Republicans vs Democrats vs Universe

so whaddya think this year?



or maybe you reject the entire premise of the article as a misguided and simplistic attempt to reduce the complexities of the social-cultural-political philosophies of the many diverse and non-consistent conglomerations of human loyalties and ideals that comprise the coming together of these various polical parties in opposition to one another as yet another symptom of the media's attempt, but really humanities inability, both psychologically, philosophically, and politically, to portrary or understand the multi-faceted nature of the complexities of these loyalties and ideals in any form but a binary, dualistic, utterly fallacious because of it's specious two-fold simplicity, the fallacy of false dichotomy for you symbolic logicians out there, form that is easily digestible and understandable to the simplistic human layman who is so overwhelmed by the pressures and the responsibility of competing against, and thus being alienated from, the entire rest of his fellow humanity and the universe in this post-industrialist information age because the requirements of capitalistic economy modern man is forced to participate in by making himself into a commodity whose value is determined by the new gods, the arbiters of fiscal value, the credit determining agencies, so that man's value in himself is thus determined outside of himself, according to the flucuations of the market, the new sisters of Fate, so that man's very existence is reduced to various sets of simple yet false binary oppositions, like republican vs democrat, good vs evil, active vs pledge, good credit vs bad credit, etc. vs non-etc., that the truth of existence, the unity of the entire universe within itself and the determining of one's value from inside of oneself by examining the deepest parts inside of one's own mind-soul and finding there hugging and kissing and laughing and crying with you, the divinity of the entire universe, as taught by the ancient teachers of the one unified super spirit of the universe, is replaced by the nihilism of the soul and existence itself and allegiance to the new God of humanity, one's credit score, which will ultimately determine whether one winds up in the new afterlife, the lowest tax bracket at the bottom of hell, the largest tax bracket in the middle of purgatory, or the smallest tax bracket in the heights of the heavens, and whether one worships and sacrifices at the altar of goodwill, the secret cult of Bergdorf Goodman, or at the megachurch of Walmart, like I do?

so whaddya think?

it's 4am and I got 2 hours of work left, think i'm going to have some coffee.

in case you didn't know, I've been reading Erich Fromm, can't you tell?

TAXES The Democratic platform calls for extending the middle-class tax cuts for the 98 percent of American families who make less than $250,000 a year, and makes a promise not to raise taxes on them. The platform claims a typical family has saved $3,600 during Obama's first term. "Now he's fighting to stop middle-class families and those aspiring to join the middle class from seeing their taxes go up and to extend key tax relief for working families and those paying for college, while asking the wealthiest and corporations to pay their fair share," the platform says. The Republican platform would extend the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003, pending reform of the tax code. It also says the party would try to eliminate taxes on interest, dividends and capital gains altogether for lower- and middle-income taxpayers. It also would work to repeal the estate tax and the alternative minimum tax. ___

ABORTION The Democratic platform states that it "unequivocally" supports Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that made abortion legal, and "supports a woman's right to make decisions regarding her pregnancy, including a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay." The platform states: "Abortion is an intensely personal decision between a woman, her family, her doctor and her clergy; there is no place for politicians or government to get in the way." The Republican Party platform bans abortion in all cases, even rape, incest and when the life of the mother is endangered. Republicans say "the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed." It opposes using public revenues to promote or perform abortion or to fund organizations that perform or advocate abortions. ___

GAY MARRIAGE The Democratic platform supports the movement to get equal treatment under the law for same-sex couples. The platform says: "We also support the freedom of churches and religious entities to decide how to administer marriage as a religious sacrament without government interference." The platform opposes "federal and state constitutional amendments and other attempts to deny equal protection under the law" to same-sex couples. The Republican Party platform affirms the rights of states and the federal government not to recognize same-sex marriage. It backs a constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. ___

IMMIGRATION The platform states that "Democrats are strongly committed to enacting comprehensive immigration reform." Immigration overhaul would include bringing "undocumented immigrants out of the shadows," requiring illegal immigrants "to get right with the law, learn English and pay taxes" to get on a path toward citizenship. It also calls for a visa system that meets the country's "economic needs, keeps families together and enforces the law." It acknowledges that administrative fixes are not permanent. "Only Congress can provide a permanent, comprehensive solution." The Republican platform opposes "any form of amnesty" for those who intentionally violate the immigration laws, demands a halt to Justice Department lawsuits against states that have enacted tough immigration measures, would deny federal funding to universities that provide in-state tuition to illegal immigrants and advocates making English the official national language. ___

MEDICARE Democrats say the new health care law makes Medicare stronger by adding new benefits, fighting fraud and improving care for patients. It notes that nearly 50 million older Americans and those with disabilities rely on Medicare. Over 10 years, the law will save the average Medicare beneficiary $4,200, the platform says. "Democrats adamantly oppose any efforts to privatize or voucherize Medicare," the platform says. The GOP platform pledges to move Medicare away from "the current unsustainable defined-benefit entitlement model to a fiscally sound defined-contribution model." It supports a Medicare transition to a premium-support model with an income-adjusted contribution toward a health plan of the enrollee's choice. ___

CAMPAIGN FINANCE The Democratic platform criticizes the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, which lifted restrictions on independent political expenditures by corporations and unions, and calls for "immediate action to curb the influence of lobbyists and special interests on our political institutions" — with a constitutional amendment, if necessary, in the cause of campaign finance reform. "We support requiring groups trying to influence elections to reveal their donors so the public will know who's funding the political ads it sees," the platform says. The Republican platform supports the Citizens United decision as a free speech issue. ___

HEALTH CARE The platform pledges to continue building on the new health care law. It says accessible, affordable, high-quality health care is part of the American promise, that Americans should have the security that comes with good health care, and that no one should go broke because they get sick. "No law is perfect and Democrats stand willing to work with anyone to improve the law where necessary, but we are committed to moving forward," the platform says. The GOP platform says that a Republican president on his first day in office would use his waiver authority to halt progress in carrying out the health care act. It calls for a Republican plan based on improving health care quality and lowering costs and a system that promotes the free market and gives consumers more choice. ___

DEFENSE The platform says Democrats have responsibly ended the war in Iraq, put the al-Qaida terrorist organization on the path to defeat with the killing of Osama bin Laden and reversed the Taliban's momentum to set the stage for the drawdown of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. "As a consequence of the president's decisions and the brave work of our military and intelligence professionals, bin Laden can no longer threaten the United States and al-Qaida's senior leadership has been devastated, rendering the group far less capable than it was four years ago," the platform said. "The al-Qaida core in Afghanistan and Pakistan has never been weaker." Democrats back further reductions in the nuclear weapons stockpile, building on the hard-fought U.S.-Russia treaty that Obama got through the Senate in December 2010. Democrats also say they have an "unshakable commitment to Israel's security," and Obama will do all in his power to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. Democrats say they want to maintain a strong military, but argue that in the current fiscal environment, tough budgetary decisions must include defense spending. They noted that Democrats and Republicans agreed last summer in the deficit-cutting plan to reduce military spending. Republicans, in their platform, criticizes the Obama administration as holding weak positions toward such countries as North Korea, China and Iran and for reductions in military spending.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Is bopping ever justified?

A rabbit finds itself hopping through the forest. In order to amuse himself, he begins scooping up the field mice that he finds along the way, and bops them on the head. Is this a right action? Is it justified?

But consider the following alterations to the example: The rabbit is hopping through the forest. In order to amuse himself, he picks up the occasional field mouse. The mouse, being a rather vicious animal, bites the rabbit on the paw. So, in retaliation (and perhaps for his own safety), the rabbit bops the field mouse on the head. Is this now a right action? Is the action justified?

Let us consider yet another possibility: Unbeknownst to anyone (including rabbits and non-rabbits), the field mice have been gathering to plot a massive attack against the rabbits. While field mice are considerably smaller than rabbits, one at a time, they are helpless against the enormous rabbit. However, they, at some point, realized that if they were to all join together, their masses could beat the rabbits rather easily. An agent, call him Bunny Foo-Foo, does not know of the master plan of the field mice. As he hops through the forest, as he usually does, he begins picking up the field mice and bopping them on the head. The number of field mice that he bops before his actions are stopped by the sovereign (call her the Blue Fairy if you will), is sufficient to hold of the attack of the mice (at least until they produce more mice). As Bunny Foo-Foo has now single-handedly saved the rabbits from complete and total destruction, it seems he has now done a good thing. Is the action now right? Even if Bunny Foo-Foo was not privilege to this knowledge? Why or why not?


Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Folk-psychological belief ascription and idiolectal translations

I wrote a paper on Quinean empathy qua idiolectal translation manual selection tool recently, and I think that I may be onto something, but Falk seemed to think differently. I submit to you some preliminary thoughts about this topic, and any feedback would be greatly appreciated.
I think that using empathy as a way to help select a (so-to-speak) idiolectal translation manual--being a "manual" that allows one to properly take words or phrases used in the lexical public language and effectively translate them into the idiolect of the original speaker--that will allow us to avoid what seems to be a common problem in the philosophy of language; namely the problem of identity when a speaker is unaware that two terms (or proper names) refer to the same object, makes contradictory statements (not knowing of the contradiction) and a third party seeks to report those beliefs having full knowledge of the co-reference and thus the third party is doomed to contradiction in a way that the original speaker is not. This should bring to mind Frege's "morning star-evening star," or for those of you in Falk's D&B class, his whole book.
Anyway, that's the problem... Here's what I think one can do:

I attempt to show that using empathy may provide us a sort of “back-door” into understanding the idiolect of another person. If we are able to detect idiosyncratic tendencies of another’s language (both verbal and non-verbal) then it may lend credence to our abilities to, so to speak, choose the correct idolectal translation guide and better understand another person. If this is possible, it will provide us a basis to maneuver around a seeming paradox in ascribing rational-but-false beliefs to another person; namely that we ultimately end in self-contradiction. This is a familiar problem to the philosophy of mind, but is posed decisively in Stephen Schiffer’s article, “A Problem for a Direct-Reference Theory of Belief Reports.” The confutation of this problem may not be, necessarily a solution, as much as a way to show that it really is not a problem after all.
I will not provide the entirety of the paper (as that would be a ludicrous abuse of this venue) but I will provide some key definitions to help you help me, I hope.
Empathy, as I shall use it, I mean to be the detection of idiosyncratic behavior (both verbal and non-verbal) and generating the ability to project ourselves into the position of the speaker-actor. Following Falk, I will refer specifically to empathy as a way to understand that attitude, as well as, behavior of another. Empathy, while not being entirely conscious at all times, is not an ability that we have with everyone, all the time. It is, however, imperative to learn a public language, and so is something that we have naturally.
(This is much like the definition outlined by Quine in Pursuit of Truth, §16 (pg. 43) where he states, “We judge what counts as witnessing the occasion… by projecting ourselves into the witness’s position.”) It is important to note, however, that I do not limit my use of empathy to observation sentences in terms of concrete objects; I extend this also to empathy of attitudes and behaviors.
Idiolect I take to be a fairly common term denoting a pseudo-public language that is personal to an individual. By ‘pseudo-public’ I mean that it is a personal reflection of a lexical public language that I happen to prescribe to but that is not exclusive to me. I borrow this notion from Alexander George who described idiolects as, “not something essentially private: you and I could have the same idiolect… An idiolect is idiosyncratic in being that about which a particular speaker at a particular time has some knowledge and not in being something about which only one person could have knowledge.”
In his paper, “Whose Language Is It Anyway? Some Notes on Idiolects,” George explains the idiolect in a way I find quite congenial. He says, “My idiolect is an object about which I have beliefs, in particular those beliefs I possess qua linguistic being. In this respect, one’s idiolect can be compared, for example, to the natural number series… These are abstract structures about which one can have beliefs, some true, some false.”
translation manual is a useful tool that everyone has at their disposal. What I mean by this is that with each person subscribing to an idiolect, there must be some way to get at how the idiolect applies to the public language. Think about this manual in the same way that one would think about one for a foreign language.
Alright. Go to town.