The Worthlessness of Freedom

  It is often the belief by people that freedom is the greatest of all life’s gifts. An inalienable right that all men (well humans) are born with, or something deep and inspirational like that. I’m here to argue however that it is relatively weak on the value scale in life.

  The inspiration for this article comes from a short story today begins as many bad jokes do:

“Mother Theresa walks into the White House to speak with Ronald Reagan. When they meet she scolds him greatly pointing out the fact that the US is the richest country in the world and yet it has poor people. To this Reagan responds that “They may be poor but they are free.” to which Theresa (apparently) responded “That is bullshit. The free that are hungry desire food, not freedom. The homeless that are hungry desire housing, not freedom. The poor that are free desire aid, not freedom. Freedom is only important to those that have all that the less fortunate do not.”

  Now I’m sure I embellished a bit but the basic point is the same. When you ask a starving man on the street what he wants most of all, you are more than likely not to hear “freedom”. Which comes back to a term that was introduced to me in the “Theory of Justice” course at Western Washington. Based on a book by a man named “John Rawls”, he introduces the concept of “Primary Goods”.

  There are certain goods that no person should be without, those things are called “Primary Goods”. I don’t recall what his were but by personal opinion mine would be, food, health, education, and shelter. Now you might think that at least one of these things are superfluous but allow me to explain.

  All humans (in fact all living organisms) require food (I include any nourishing material under the tag of food) to survive. Few things that are readily and consistently available will kill you faster than being without food.

  The next important factor is Health, now you can easily place shelter under the blanket of Health and I would be willing to accept that. Without a proper and universal healthcare system you aid in the spread of disease and birth defects. Neither of which is a positive addition to any living thing. Likewise over a billion dollars a year is lost in reduced man hours because of injury and illness. In most studies that I’ve seen the introduction of a diverse and available healthcare system results in a net gain of revenue for the country involved.

  Education comes in third but it is hardly unimportant. A good education is critical to the furthering of a species…period. If we do not work very hard to create a proper, comprehensive, and efficient education system we essentially are preparing our own demise. Let me drop some information on you for instance in the US:

33% of people don’t know the 3 branches of government
75% of people knew at least 1 of the AI judges…
50% of the US States don’t require Civics and Government to graduate.

    Now let me reiterate the depressing information above. It’s not that 33% of US citizens do not know what the 3 branches do it is that they don’t know what they are period. Our country is actively creating less and less competent people and this is an incredibly dangerous thing to do. Even college is nothing more than job training, people in large do not go to college to educate themselves.

  The final factor in furthering humanity is shelter. Proper sheltering helps quell many diseases and it reduces overall health issues related to temperature and environment (that are not disease related like hypothermia). It’s relatively obvious so I don’t feel that it requires any further explanation feel free to comment if you disagree.

  Once you have fulfilled all of the primary goods, that is when freedom starts being the most important thing to deal with. Because until that happens, the only people who value freedom, are those that have the primary goods. Likewise the people who have lived their entire life with these goods will never appreciate them or appreciate just how horrible the life of a person who is without them is. Freedom feeds no-one, freedom heals no disease, freedom houses no people, and freedom educates no-one. What freedom does is allow these things to be freely dispersed and the problem is that freedom is not used in such a way. For that reason, Freedom is worthless.

  I can see no positive gain from ‘for-profit’ versions of any primary goods and the mere act of doing these things solely for profit is a slap in the face to all living people (regardless of whether or not they are within your domain). The moment people stop attributing an intrinsic (and dominating) value to Freedom and begin working on the truly valuable goods is the moment that I feel that the US will truly be a country to admire.

  A person can bash these sort of beliefs all they want, but considering the following information:

The top 10 "happiest" countries:
1. Denmark
2. Switzerland
3. Austria
4. Iceland
5. The Bahamas
6. Finland
7. Sweden
8. Bhutan
9. Brunei
10. Canada

The U.S. ended up on the 23rd place, the UK on 41, China is 82, Japan 90, and India an unhappy 125.

   These sort of studies are done all the time, and you can almost always correlate the ease of acquiring the primary goods in the nations with their ranking on the happiness scale. There are always special exceptions, however the overall pattern is difficult to overlook. Well…apparently not all that difficult considering the garbage I’ve been reading and witnessing on the topic of healthcare and education.

  A small clarification that is a common retort to this is: “What about countries under Tyranny they want freedom.” I would point people back to the paragraph just above the list of countries. When people desire freedom, they want it for the things it is supposed to aid and enhance. You’ll also find that some of the most unhappy places in the world not only do not have any freedoms, they have no primary goods as well.

By | 2009-03-06T18:59:08+00:00 March 6th, 2009|Journal|Comments Off on The Worthlessness of Freedom

We all are living in the past.

  Something that has recently hit me was that nothing is instant. You will hear “It’s basically instant” but basically doesn’t pay the bills. Everything from the firings of nerves to the brain to the things you see take at the very least a nanosecond. It doesn’t seem like much but it brings up some interesting points.

  When we look at the stars we make the point that what we are seeing at any one point could indeed no longer exist, exploding brilliantly millions of years in the past and we are merely waiting to be informed. But everyday our lives are bundled into a bit of hope, for a nanosecond (or even a few nanoseconds) we are hoping that the person in front of us still exists. Sound travels even slower than light and so for a very small portion of time we are living in utter ignorance.

  Much like your hand recoils before you even feel the pain (since the process routes through your spine and be glad that it does) you are taking for granted that a few nanoseconds ago is the same as now. Indeed when the meteor that destroyed the dinosaurs hit they had absolutely no idea for a large radius around ground zero that anything had happened. They were obliterated with such speed and force that before they could even feel the pain, see the flash, or sense anything they were dead and gone. Blasted into atomic leftovers (possibly worse, I’m not a physicist).

  So the next time you look at something, the next time you feel something. Take a moment. You are forever living in the literal past, a few nanoseconds behind the physical universe. You could very literally be dead before you know it. It’s not all bad though, at least we are catching up to what has already happened. Imagine if we were a few nanoseconds up and on the line of time, we’d be jumping into something even the universe hasn’t worked out yet (but before you know it it already has).

  So yes, we are all living in the past. Albeit a fantastically small bit in the past, basically negligible, however basically doesn’t pay the bill but in case of ground zero impact you at least don’t have the misfortune of even knowing you no longer exist ;).

By | 2009-03-05T13:50:10+00:00 March 5th, 2009|Journal|Comments Off on We all are living in the past.

The Seraphim of Scion

  For those of you that DO know I’m writing a story and were invited to my rough drafting project. Here is the image that shows the current known deities (known as Seraphim) in the Isles of Scion Lore. There is a good reason there is a lot of white canvas to see :). I think grey looks very professional…but the font seems a little hokey on some monitors (looks perfect on PS).

SeraphimofScion  Hope you enjoy. It’s not exactly informative but I’ll start unloading information on you folks as I get deeper into my project. I hope that it’ll be successful :). It would give me something very pleasurable to work on in my life. Which this site certainly is turning into as well.

By | 2009-03-04T21:25:33+00:00 March 4th, 2009|Journal|Comments Off on The Seraphim of Scion

Metaphysical Finale (Part 2 of 4)

Over the next day or two I will be discussing the following topics:
Formulating and Explaining: Determinism, Hard Determinism, Soft Determinism, Indeterminism, Volitional Indeterminism, The Theory of Agency, Fatalism, Theism, and Atheism.

Presenting, Explaining, and Evaluating: An Argument Against Moral Responsibility, The Kid Patriot Argument Against Soft Determinism, The Ernest Patriot Argument Against Simple Indeterminism, The Vera Patriot Argument Against Volitional Indeterminism, What I take to be the best argument against The Theory of Agency, The Argument for Fatalism, What I take to be the best argument for Theism, and What I take to be the best argument for Atheism.

Bolded parts can be found here. This may be a few days worth of material so I’ll continue to bold things and perhaps color them so its easy to find the parts relevant to visitors. I also realize that some of this has been stated before, but I will try to give new (I know fantastic) responses to them.

Hard Determinism

(1) Determinism is True
(2) People never act freely.
(3) People are never morally responsible for their actions.

Determinism was defined earlier and the this requires no further explanation. Hard determinists believe that determinism is true, just like gravity. If Determinism is true then one would be hard pressed to say that people act freely and likewise a hard determinist says just that, people do not act freely. Finally if people never act freely then they are never morally responsible, after all you wouldn’t judge a man forced to kill someone as you would someone who freely does so the same.

Soft Determinism

(1) Determinism is True
(2) People act freely when they commit unconstrained and voluntary actions.
(3) People are morally responsible only when they commit unconstrained and voluntary actions.

Again we are looking at the statement that determinism is true, again for the same reasons above. However we introduce two new ideas. The idea of unconstrained actions and the idea of voluntary actions. So lets clarify those two :).

An action is unconstrained if it is an action that is if the agent were to decide to not do an action that it would in fact not do that action. Seizures for instance are not unconstrained as you will do them whether or not you want to (which is sad). However jumping is an unconstrained action as you don’t jump if you don’t want to and aren’t forced to. However no amount of hope keeps you from returning back to the Earth which is why falling is unconstrained :). Hope that helps.

An action is voluntary if the agent decides to do the action. More specifically the action is voluntary if the organism doing the action decided that it wanted to. Sort of sounds the same but I believe there are subtle and appreciable differences (might be the coffee).

The basic idea here is that there are activities that people can do that do not conflict with Determinism and those particular actions are the ones you are responsible for as long as they are unconstrained and voluntary. However this raises a complaint that was labeled the “Kid Patriot Argument against Soft Determinism”.

The Kid Patriot Argument against Soft Determinism

(1) If Soft Determinism were true kid patriot would be morally responsible for shooting the president.
(2) Kid Patriot is not morally responsible.

(3) Soft Determinism is False.

Short sweet and to the point. However you might be asking yourself “Why the hell did kid patriot shoot the president?” Well here is the story in a nutshell. Lets say that there is a boy by the name Kid Patriot, as his last name would suggest he is absolutely obsessed with protecting the president. He spends his whole life getting the grades and experience required to become a secret service agent. Truly an example for us all. Well a group of Aliens who hate the American Way (or perhaps were bored) secretly implant a chip in Kid Patriots brain that essential tells him to do things (mind control). They could give him urges to eat pizza, slap nuns, or perhaps…shoot the president.

When he’s at the white house they flip the switch to “presi-kill” and indeed he puts a bullet into the president and with the precision of a surgeon kills him. The second its over they turn off the brainwash and he is mortified, the other agents gun him down and that is the end of Patriot. Poor kid.

Kid patriots action was unconstrained and it was voluntary. Now I personally was very hard pressed to accept these reasoning’s and in fact I’m likely forgetting the rationale. Because in this situation he is indeed not morally responsible it is argued that soft determinism is equally flawed. I warn you now these stories only get wackier from here.

The argument itself is valid, if kid patriot is indeed supposed to be morally responsible for the presidents death according to soft determinism than we have a conundrum because it would appear he is a victim in the situation like the president. The second premise is true because it seems relatively reasonable to say that he was not morally responsible. The argument also appears to be sound for the same reasons that it is valid.

I would argue personally if you want to make Soft Determinism more appropriate you would perhaps replace voluntary with desired.

Desired Actions would be defined as “Any action done in sound mind that the agent finds the most appetitive.” The idea being that whenever an agent acts in the interest of itself with full faculties that it is acting to its desires. Introductions of great distress, ultimatums, and brain control devices negate the sound mind feature of the definition so I ‘think’ that it is relatively solid.

Indeterminism: Not every event that occurs is completely determined by previous events.

Indeterminism finds strength in not making a universal statement (in the conventional sense). It leaves room open for human naivety. Much like soft determinism it essentially establishes that the entire timeline has not already been determined and played out (and consequently boring). There is nothing about natural law that dictates that it has complete domain over thoughts and decisions (which is something that determinism never seems to address).

To be Continued Tomorrow :). (Slowly but surely folks expect other updates with these too. I’m feeling spunky.)

By | 2009-03-16T19:22:19+00:00 March 4th, 2009|Journal|1 Comment