Philosophical Multicore

Sometimes controversial, sometimes fallacious, sometimes thought-provoking, and always fun.

Archive for April, 2009

The Ultimate Contest: Legos vs. Mega Blocks

Posted by Michael Dickens on April 27, 2009

http://www.Debate.org/debate/7998/

I argue that Mega Blocks are superior to Legos, though I think the products are essentially identical and my arguments have a ton of holes in them. I challenge you to find the holes in my arguments. I committed at least two logical fallacies and made at least one additional bad argument. Try to find them all, plus see if you can find any that I missed.

Posted in Debate, Humor | Leave a Comment »

Are Teenagers Capable of Intelligent Debate?

Posted by Michael Dickens on April 24, 2009

I love debate.org.

There was a debate with the resolution Young people between the ages of 13 and 17 are able to make an argument that can be used in a debate. The PRO side actually instantly wins, since it is stupendously easy to make an argument that can be used in a debate. So I will assume that this resolution really means “…are able to make an argument that can be effectively used…”.

Ok to tell the truth I am 13 too, and I agree we can be good at debating. But in this case i’ll play as the devil’s advocate.

I don’t think that younger people can be good debaters, they have barely lived a few years and only base their arguments on book or obtained knowledge, not natural intelligence or experience. 13-17 year olds haven’t lived life enough to actually know what is right or what is wrong. Even though if they have won a few debates that doesn’t mean that they are the best at debating.

That is a bad argument for the CON side, which means CON wins. (Not really, since the resolution is not that all teenagers are capable of intelligent debate, only that some are.)

No, but really. That’s a bad argument. The PRO side doesn’t do a very good job of rebutting it (the PRO was 13 at the time, so also provides evidence to support CON), so I will.
1. Arguments based on obtained knowledge are close to as good as those based on experience.
2. Right and wrong are not based primarily on experience; they are based on evolutionary logic, if you’ll allow me to coin that phrase.
3. Even if morals were based on experience, many adults lack experience as well. The PRO side cites abortion as an example, but uses it to prove a different point. I will use it to prove this point: men have no experience with having abortions, but they are still fully qualified to argue about whether abortion is moral. Why? Because they have experience with people. Abortion is really about fetuses, and whether they deserve the rights that fully-fledged people have. Teenagers also have experience with people, though not as much. However, not a lot is necessary.

In conclusion, I win. (You were expecting a beautiful and inspirational closing sentence, weren’t you?)

Posted in Debate | Leave a Comment »

The BIG Issues

Posted by Michael Dickens on April 24, 2009

On debate.org, each person has a list of their standpoint on “the BIG issues”, so I will try to justify all of my standpoints if I have not already done so. Here is a listing of all the big issues:

• Abortion
• Affirmative Action
• Border Fence
• Campaign Finance Reform
• Civil Unions
• Death Penalty
• Drug Legalization
• Environmental Protection
• Estate Tax
• Euthanasia
• Flag Burning
• Flat Tax
• Gay Marriage
• Global Warming Exists
• Gun Rights
• Labor Unions
• Late Term Abortion
• Medicaid & Medicare
• Medical Marijuana
• Minimum Wage
• Missile Defense System
• NAFTA
• National Health Care
• National Retail Sales Tax
• Patriotism
• PETA
• Police Profiling
• President George W. Bush
• Progressive Tax
• School Vouchers
• Social Programs
• Social Security
• Term Limits
• Tobacco Rights
• United Nations
• United States
• War in Afghanistan
• War in Iran
• War in Iraq
• War on Terrorism
• Water Boarding
• Welfare
• World Trade Organization

You can view my profile to see my opinions on this issues. I am undecided on many of them, so I will work out my opinions on them.

I have already explained my beliefs on abortion and gay marriage. However, I have yet to justify my other beliefs. I will now proceed to justify the easily justifiable beliefs.

Border Fence: Expensive, with minimal effect. CON.
Death Penalty: More expensive than a life sentence; takes away right to life. CON.
Flag Burning: Free speech. If people don’t like an object being defaced, that’s their problem, as long as the object is owned by the one doing the defacing and no one gets harmed. PRO.
Labor Unions: Protect the rights of workers. PRO.
Medical Marijuana: It’s medical. PRO.
PETA: Many of them are terrorists. Their goals are foolish. And I will not affiliate myself with an organization that wants to rename fish to “sea kittens”. CON.
President George W. Bush: Among other things, he (partially) screwed up the education system and started a pointless war. CON.
Term Limits: Term limits prevent dictatorship. PRO.
United States: What does it mean to be pro a country? I think the united states is a country. PRO.
War in Iraq: Pointless. CON.
Water Boarding: Torture is not only painful, but for the most part ineffective. CON.

I will write posts about the other ones (provided they are interesting) in the future.

Posted in Debate, Politics | Leave a Comment »

Should a teacher's pay be merit-based?

Posted by Michael Dickens on April 24, 2009

Debate!

Should a teacher’s pay be based on the performance of the teacher’s students? I think this is a great idea, that could encourage better and more enthusiastic teaching. However, because of the methods in which we measure the performance of students, it would be too easy for a teacher to cheat to improve the students’ scores. For this reason, I do not think that merit-based pay is a good idea with the current methods of measuring performance; however, with methods that effectively prevent cheating, it is a great idea.

Posted in Ethics | Leave a Comment »

Morality vs. Practicality

Posted by Michael Dickens on April 24, 2009

On some issues, I am torn between morality and practicality. For example, legalizing marijuana.

The moral side: Marijuana is harmful and should be illegal.

The practical side: People will smoke marijuana whether it is legal or not, and if it is legal then the government can tax it.

From a moral standpoint, marijuana should be illegal. But there are practical benefits to legalizing marijuana. So the question is, should we look at it from a purely moral standpoint, or should we also look at real-life considerations? I do not feel that I can properly consider the question at this time. So leave a comment about how you feel on the issue of morality vs. practicality.

Posted in Ethics | Leave a Comment »

Vigilantism

Posted by Michael Dickens on April 23, 2009

Just when I thought I had run out of topics, I found this site.

Resolution: Vigilantism is justified when the government has failed to enforce the law. Is it true or false? Let’s find out.

(If you do not comment about your own opinions, I will personally hunt you down, kidnap you, and lock you in my basement until you write a comment.)

To get some ideas flowing, I’m going to use some quotes from the above debate. I may repeat something that was said, since I’m only reading one post at a time. Also, I am not exactly debating for one side or the other; instead, I am investigating to determine the best option. It’s not always black and white; sometimes vigilantism is justified, and sometimes not.

====================
The following comments are from the affirmative (i.e. the resolution is true) debater’s first post.

It’s the biggest test of the semester. The grade on this test will either make you or break you. You reach a problem that you don’t know. A little bit of help from your friend that actually studied would be extremely helpful right now. Well the same thing can be said for the government. The government is basically just taking a test, solving the problem of crime. Since nobody is perfect, we all need a little help sometime. So when the government has to skip over the problem that it doesn’t know, why not let your friend give you a little help? Vigilantism is the government’s friend that is helping out on the test. Because I believe that everyone needs a little help here and there, I stand in strong affirmation of the resolution, Resolved: Vigilantism is justified when the government has failed to enforce the law.

I cannot think of a worse analogy. If I reach a problem that I cannot answer, it’s my fault for not knowing it. It’s not the test’s fault. The test has no responsibility to make sure I know everything; neither does my friend. It is my responsibility. When my friend helps me, that’s what we call cheating. It is generally considered immoral.

In addition, that analogy does not entirely apply. The government never asked for help. It’s possible that the government is completely competent, but simply isn’t acting.

If the government has already failed in its duty to uphold the law, then how is justice suppose to be achieved? People need to take action when nothing is accomplished by the government.

I agree. I see this as the primary argument in support of the resolution, and apparently so does the affirmative debater.

Contention 1 – Look at the most famous vigilante ever, Batman

Yes, use a fictional character as your first example. That’s a great idea.

In seriousness, fictional characters can be a useful tool in making examples. But in terms of actual societal reactions to certain activities, stories fail miserably. That sort of prediction has to do with chaos theory, meaning it’s virtually impossible to get right, at least in the specifics. So vigilantism may work great for Gotham City, but in a real city it may be completely different.

According to the definition provided earlier, a vigilante only takes the law into their hands, but doesn’t change the laws or ignore them. The only difference between vigilantism and the regular system is who carries it out. If a “vigilante” breaks the law themselves or over punishes someone, then they can no longer be considered a vigilante, rather they are a rogue individual.

While an interesting point, this seems like a sort of circular definition: vigilantes always follow the law, and if they don’t, then they’re not vigilantes! Police are still police, even if they break the law. It’s a technically acceptable definition, but I don’t like it since it has no connection to reality; people don’t suddenly lose all their vigilante powers or whatever when they stop obeying the law. That sentence didn’t make much sense, did it?

Once the government fails, then it is a person’s right to self preservation in the form of vigilantism.

The author fails to back up this claim, so I will.

Everyone has fundamental rights to life, liberty, and happiness. Those are possibly the most important rights that we have. Since we live in a primarily Capitalist society, the right to property is arguably almost as important. The right to property means that we own our property, and no one may harm it or take it.

From these rights, it follows that vigilantism is necessary if the government fails to protect our rights, whether it be because of an incompetent government or simply because the government skipped over your case. Obeying the laws of the government are important, but are overridden by the rights to life, liberty, happiness, and possibly property.

====================
The following arguments are from the negative (i.e. the resolution is false) debater’s first post.

In order to legitimize legal justice we must adhere to it. Breaking from it at any time loses the point of government in general.

This is true; however, if the government is already useless when it comes to enforcing justice, there is no reason not to delegitimize it. (triple negatives FTW)

The way the law must work consistently or else there is no point to it. And although it may fail time to time, we must also recognize that vigilantism fails from time to time as well. Therefore, the net benefit is given to the con side where there is actual consistency.

The second sentence does not follow from the first sentence, so I will deal with them separately.
1. If the law does not work consistently, then there is no point to it? This supports the affirmative side.
2. Vigilantism would only be used as a backup system in the case of the government failing. In this scenario, vigilantism cannot make the situation any worse than it already is.

Legal Justice is the decision of all whereas vigilantism is the decision of a few (or less).
—Thus, the legal justice decision is almost always the decision of the people. And whether it is right or wrong (usually right), it is what must be done. Changing from this is unjustified.

That is, if the legal justice system actually works. If the justice system is based on the decision of the people, it is likely working properly. If it is not working, then it is likely not based on the decision of the people, and is therefore no better than vigilantism.

The debate is not yet finished, so this is all I can comment on. I could add some of my own personal views, but I don’t really want to do that right now. Reviewing other people’s logic is more fun.

Posted in Ethics | Leave a Comment »

Another Abortion Post, This Time In Video Form

Posted by Michael Dickens on April 21, 2009

Check out my video. link

Posted in Abortion, Ethics | 1 Comment »

Issues

Posted by Michael Dickens on April 21, 2009

What political and moral issues do you find interesting? I’m looking for some more topics to write on.

Posted in Politics | 4 Comments »

It's no fun if you don't leave comments.

Posted by Michael Dickens on April 21, 2009

When you visit this site, please post your thoughts. I am just one person. Hearing musings from other people makes it more interesting. So add some fuel to the fire of discussion, especially if you disagree with me. I like getting opposing viewpoints.

Thank you.

Update: I am disappointed by the lack of new comments in the last ten minutes.

Posted in Off-Topic | 3 Comments »

Response to "United Socialist States of America"

Posted by Michael Dickens on April 21, 2009

http://bsimmons.wordpress.com/2008/10/17/the-rise-of-the-united-socialist-states-of-america/

I’m unable to log in, so I can’t leave a comment there. I will instead make a blog post.

http://objllc.com/USSA.htm

There are two initial premises:
1. If the United States became socialist, it would change its name.
Why?

2. Socialism is bad.
It didn’t work the first couple of times it was used. But the people at the top were corrupt/paranoid dictators. I think if it were managed more effectively, it wouldn’t be so bad.

VIDEO
“Step 1: Elevate extreme liberal left-wing Socialists to majority party status, thereby placing them in committee leadership positions.”
Do you really need those four words to describe democrats? Firstly, not all democrats are liberal. Secondly, left-wing and liberal are the same thing. Thirdly, not all liberals are extreme. Fourthly, few liberals are Socialist. Fifthly, even if they were, so what?

(paraphrased) “Bad stuff is happening, like inflation and high gas prices. ‘Socialist’ public approval rating is lower than President Bush!!!” (yes, that number of exclamation marks were used)
So some bad stuff has happened recently. Congress has a low approval rating. But since when are they Socialist? And since when does this make Socialism bad? If a single person or group of people who belong to a party are “bad”, this does not make the entire party “bad”. For example, Bush is a lousy president. But not all Republicans are equally lousy.

“Step 2: Nationalize the credit/banking industry. You do this by pointing the finger at the opposition (getting help from the mainstream media), and sucker enough of them to pass a pork-laden Bailout Bill.”
Yeah, there is a big conspiracy where some evil Socialists have a several-step plan (I don’t know how many steps; I haven’t finished the video) to take over America. Sure.

On a more serious note, I see no real truth in this “step 2”. It makes an appeal to emotion without really saying anything.

(paraphrased) “Democrats do a bunch of bad stuff and Republicans predicted that the financial crisis would occur and no one did anything about it.”
Democrats and Republicans in Congress do not work alone. It is a joint effort.

Not all Democrats are evil, and not all Republicans are holy. The world is not black and white.

(paraphrased) “Some Democrats failed to predict the financial crisis.”
So what? So did a lot of people.

“The timing of the economic crisis is perfect: one month before the election. Not enough time to sort out the facts and make rational decisions.”
Please don’t tell me that Obama and his conspiring Socialist friends planned the financial crisis so he could win. Other than the fact that this is extremely improbable:
-How could they be sure that Obama would win?
-Obama was already winning, so why bother do something as high-risk as cause a national financial crisis?
-How could a few people single(or multi)handedly cause a national financial crisis?

I have a better theory. McCain, Bush, and their oil crony friends created the financial crisis, hoping that it would allow McCain to win. But it backfired, and McCain lost ground.

Both theories are equally (un)likely.

“Step 3: Elect a radical left-wing socialist as President.(Why is ‘president’ capitalized?)

Barack Hussein Obama.

(pictures of various things: Muslim symbol, ACLU, logos for various news stations, ACORN, Weather Underground, marijuana, a few others)”

This page is pure propaganda. I hate to be rude (actually I love to be rude but that’s beside the point), but I’m going to have to be for this section. (except that I don’t have to, I’m just doing it because it’s fun)
a) Obama has the same middle name as the last name of a radical terrorist. This is superficial and stupid.
b) The Muslim symbol probably implies one or both of two things: that Obama is a Muslim and that Muslims are evil. Just because there are some radical terrorists who happen to be Muslim, that does not make all Muslims evil. And Obama is not a Muslim; he is a Christian. Showing the Muslim symbol here wreaks of ignorance.
c) Obama was not affiliated with Weather Underground. He knew a guy who was.
d) What is marijuana doing there?

“In 1996 Barack … Obama was a registered member of the Chicago ‘New Party’ a political party established by the Democratic Socialists of America.”
So? (I put a “…” in place of “Hussein” because that word was completely unnecessary.)

(paraphrased) “Barack Obama is a Muslim.”
No he isn’t. And if he was, so what? Are you really such an ignorant racist fool as to believe that all Muslims are evil?

(paraphrased) “Obama was associated with some Muslims, radicalists, and Socialists.”
a) It is the job of the president to represent all of the country’s parties, and that includes Muslims, radicalists (whatever that means), and Socialists.
b) MUSLIMS ARE NOT BAD!!! GET THIS INTO YOUR THICK, CONSPIRACY-THEORY-FILLED HEAD!!!

That’s a pretty good place to finish, don’t you think?

Posted in Politics | Leave a Comment »

 
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