Why do soldiers risk their lives in wars?

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Re: Why do soldiers risk their lives in wars?

Post by Keenir » Wed 24 Jun 2015, 23:55

Xonen wrote: - but our brains are physically still pretty much the same as they were a hundred thousand years ago.
bingo. exactly.
Our ability to build fires and nuclear waste dump sites is a result of a combination of intelligence, exceptionally nimble fingers, and favorable circumstances - not of intelligence alone. Still, I'm not claiming that any other animal is as intelligent as we are. Just that the possibility that some of them might be intelligent enough to qualify as "persons" cannot be ruled out. At least not without adopting a definition of "person" that would seem to disqualify at least some humans.
And what definition would exclude humans nowadays?

You (I think you) keep harping about how definitions of "people" would exclude certain social and ethnic groups as they were seen centuries ago. So PLEASE, what humans would be excluded now?
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Re: Why do soldiers risk their lives in wars?

Post by Xonen » Thu 25 Jun 2015, 00:12

Keenir wrote:
Our ability to build fires and nuclear waste dump sites is a result of a combination of intelligence, exceptionally nimble fingers, and favorable circumstances - not of intelligence alone. Still, I'm not claiming that any other animal is as intelligent as we are. Just that the possibility that some of them might be intelligent enough to qualify as "persons" cannot be ruled out. At least not without adopting a definition of "person" that would seem to disqualify at least some humans.
And what definition would exclude humans nowadays?

You (I think you) keep harping about how definitions of "people" would exclude certain social and ethnic groups as they were seen centuries ago. So PLEASE, what humans would be excluded now?
The aforementioned Sentinelese? Or other uncontacted tribes, or tribes who have been contacted but decided they actually quite like living in the jungle without electricity or Jesus, thank you very much?

Even if they'd, say, all been somehow wiped out yesterday, why would that be relevant? Unless you're saying that humans who don't have access to 21st-century technology don't qualify as "persons", in which case we're just going to have to agree to disagree.
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Re: Why do soldiers risk their lives in wars?

Post by Keenir » Thu 25 Jun 2015, 01:16

Xonen wrote:
Keenir wrote:
Our ability to build fires and nuclear waste dump sites is a result of a combination of intelligence, exceptionally nimble fingers, and favorable circumstances - not of intelligence alone. Still, I'm not claiming that any other animal is as intelligent as we are. Just that the possibility that some of them might be intelligent enough to qualify as "persons" cannot be ruled out. At least not without adopting a definition of "person" that would seem to disqualify at least some humans.
And what definition would exclude humans nowadays?

You (I think you) keep harping about how definitions of "people" would exclude certain social and ethnic groups as they were seen centuries ago. So PLEASE, what humans would be excluded now?
The aforementioned Sentinelese? Or other uncontacted tribes, or tribes who have been contacted but decided they actually quite like living in the jungle without electricity or Jesus, thank you very much?
my god, you're the only one talking about jesus.

granted, maybe I missed the post where someone said that dolphins aren't human because dolphins don't believe in Jesus.
Even if they'd, say, all been somehow wiped out yesterday, why would that be relevant?
I said according to views which are no longer held; I never mentioned extermination.

Unless you're saying that humans who don't have access to 21st-century technology don't qualify as "persons", in which case we're just going to have to agree to disagree.
I
Did
Not
Say
That.

I want to know what definition you're advocating, since you keep claiming that, if we don't say that dolphins are people, then humans aren't people...and your only evidence was a photo of how some humans used to be kept in zoos.
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Re: Why do soldiers risk their lives in wars?

Post by Xonen » Thu 25 Jun 2015, 10:39

Keenir wrote:
Xonen wrote:
Keenir wrote:
Our ability to build fires and nuclear waste dump sites is a result of a combination of intelligence, exceptionally nimble fingers, and favorable circumstances - not of intelligence alone. Still, I'm not claiming that any other animal is as intelligent as we are. Just that the possibility that some of them might be intelligent enough to qualify as "persons" cannot be ruled out. At least not without adopting a definition of "person" that would seem to disqualify at least some humans.
And what definition would exclude humans nowadays?

You (I think you) keep harping about how definitions of "people" would exclude certain social and ethnic groups as they were seen centuries ago. So PLEASE, what humans would be excluded now?
The aforementioned Sentinelese? Or other uncontacted tribes, or tribes who have been contacted but decided they actually quite like living in the jungle without electricity or Jesus, thank you very much?
my god, you're the only one talking about jesus.

granted, maybe I missed the post where someone said that dolphins aren't human because dolphins don't believe in Jesus.
That was meant to be a joking reference to the fact that isolated tribes often receive their first contact with Western culture through Christian missionaries.
Even if they'd, say, all been somehow wiped out yesterday, why would that be relevant?
I said according to views which are no longer held; I never mentioned extermination.
You actually said "what definition would exclude humans nowadays", in response to me saying that people who've lived in the past were still people. I was merely pointing out that there are still people who live like that, and even if there for some reason weren't, that would hardly be relevant for our discussion.
Unless you're saying that humans who don't have access to 21st-century technology don't qualify as "persons", in which case we're just going to have to agree to disagree.
I
Did
Not
Say
That.

I want to know what definition you're advocating, since you keep claiming that, if we don't say that dolphins are people, then humans aren't people...and your only evidence was a photo of how some humans used to be kept in zoos.
Well I-Did-Not-Say-That-Either. [:S]

Somehow I get the feeling we're talking past each other here. That photo was a direct response to a definition advocated in this very discussion, according to which dolphins aren't persons because they haven't demanded "just compensation" or whatever. I was pointing out that those people were undeniably persons despite very much probably failing that same definition!

Everything I've said in this thread has been in response to definitions being advocated right now. It's just that any definition adopted right now must take into account that people who lived in the past, or who live in the present like we used to in the past, are still persons.
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Re: Why do soldiers risk their lives in wars?

Post by elemtilas » Thu 25 Jun 2015, 11:31

Xonen wrote:Somehow I get the feeling we're talking past each other here. That photo was a direct response to a definition advocated in this very discussion, according to which dolphins aren't persons because they haven't demanded "just compensation" or whatever. I was pointing out that those people were undeniably persons despite very much probably failing that same definition!
For what vèry little it worths any more in this discussion, I am the one who mentioned "just compensation" (or whatever!). I didn't say anything about "demanding" it! I think there is way too much (accidental or careless) putting words in others' mouths here. For my part, and I still hold to this, is that none of these supposedly smart animals have communicated in ways that we might understand as "people" communications. We all agree that animals in general, and even plants, can "communicate". I only mentioned "just compensation" as an example because, clearly, the dolphins that were being used in that research video are being held in captivity (much like the humans in the picture you posted!). Probably against their will, unless the position of "dolphin research assistant" was advertised in the Undersea Times! As far as I can tell, the video shows dolphins able to answer simple yes/no questions about their immediate environment. If they were people, surely they would be able to behave in ways and communicate about ideas above and beyond those we might expect from an animal. It's nice and warm-n-fuzzy to think of them as people, but do we really have the evidence to back up the assertion?

Everything I've said in this thread has been in response to definitions being advocated right now. It's just that any definition adopted right now must take into account that people who lived in the past, or who live in the present like we used to in the past, are still persons.
I don't think any actual definition of "person" has been present as of yet, whether inclusive of dolphins or no. All I have been saying is that, as of now, I can see no good reason to include dolphins and elephants and chimpanzees among "people" -- but I am happy to change that point of view in light of evidence supporting the notion.
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Re: Why do soldiers risk their lives in wars?

Post by Tanni » Thu 25 Jun 2015, 12:21

elemtilas wrote:If they were people, surely they would be able to behave in ways and communicate about ideas above and beyond those we might expect from an animal. It's nice and warm-n-fuzzy to think of them as people, but do we really have the evidence to back up the assertion?
You're talking about dolphins, elephants and chimansees as if they were people or persons who just do not communicate with us because of some ''mental'' insufficiences. You just don't take into account that they bodily different to us, so that ''normal'' or ''usual'' ways of communication isn't possible. Moreover, humans are not that good in e. g. permanently living in water, so there might be a similar discussion amongst dolphins. They may consider us dump, because we simply don't understand what they want to tell us. They might consider the tests we make with them as silly things, recognizing us as somewhat silly.
Everything I've said in this thread has been in response to definitions being advocated right now. It's just that any definition adopted right now must take into account that people who lived in the past, or who live in the present like we used to in the past, are still persons.
I don't think any actual definition of "person" has been present as of yet, whether inclusive of dolphins or no. All I have been saying is that, as of now, I can see no good reason to include dolphins and elephants and chimpanzees among "people" -- but I am happy to change that point of view in light of evidence supporting the notion.
Why do you need such a definition at all? Why do it need that precise? If you love all humans, why not just extendig this love to said groups of beings? Or ditching the notion of personhood, as it seems that it is extreemly difficult to find a solution which suffices? Why not just recognizing that this way is wrong (because there is no really good and wieldable definition of personhood) and just backtrack? What would that change in your live? Most likely absolutely nothing.
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Re: Why do soldiers risk their lives in wars?

Post by elemtilas » Thu 25 Jun 2015, 13:09

Tanni wrote:
elemtilas wrote:If they were people, surely they would be able to behave in ways and communicate about ideas above and beyond those we might expect from an animal. It's nice and warm-n-fuzzy to think of them as people, but do we really have the evidence to back up the assertion?
You're talking about dolphins, elephants and chimansees as if they were people or persons who just do not communicate with us because of some ''mental'' insufficiences.
No. I ám talking about dolphins, elephants and chimpanzees as animals that we might consider to also be people; and further asking the question by what criteria, apart from "obviously I am a person and therefore have some vague sense of what being a person is all about", do we consider ourselves people and finally do or can we simply insert them into the same category. If not, why not? If so, by what criteria may they be included?
You just don't take into account that they bodily different to us, so that ''normal'' or ''usual'' ways of communication isn't possible.
Obviously bodily differences have bearing -- but really, I'm thinking more along the lines of cognition, sentience, awareness and ability to externalise these concepts. The ability to bridge gaps.
Moreover, humans are not that good in e. g. permanently living in water, so there might be a similar discussion amongst dolphins. They may consider us dump, because we simply don't understand what they want to tell us. They might consider the tests we make with them as silly things, recognizing us as somewhat silly.
That's entirely possible! And this is exactly what I've been getting at! Clearly we know that we are having these discussions. We don't know if they are or not. Even if they are, what is clear is that communication between the two of us isn't happening! Even though both of us have long been in a perfect place for this kind of thing to take place. It hasn't yet, so I am wondering if aren't just barking up a wansquirrelly tree...
Everything I've said in this thread has been in response to definitions being advocated right now. It's just that any definition adopted right now must take into account that people who lived in the past, or who live in the present like we used to in the past, are still persons.
I don't think any actual definition of "person" has been present as of yet, whether inclusive of dolphins or no. All I have been saying is that, as of now, I can see no good reason to include dolphins and elephants and chimpanzees among "people" -- but I am happy to change that point of view in light of evidence supporting the notion.
Why do you need such a definition at all?[/quote]

Wheat from chaff.

Basically the point of the 'what constitutes a person' discussion is to determine just that! It's one thing for a German court to determine that certain non-human animals (I think it was chimps) are people and have people rights (and, presumably, people obligations). I am curious as to what standard was used to determine this decision: were expert witnesses called? From both sides? What did the chimps have to say on their own account? Did they understand at all what's going on? Did they have any kind of opinion, thought or even a merest glimmer of awareness of what was going on?

Also practice for the future: should we ever encounter beings from other worlds in the future, what will we answer them when they come here saying "we've studied you for thousands of years and have concluded that you barely register as people"? That we haven't even considered these questions among our own kin here on Earth? That we have no idea what a person actually is or how to apply those criteria to others? How could we defend ourselves against that kind of statement if we can't even determine what a person is here on Earth?
Why do it need that precise?
Generally speaking, precision is better. I don't recall anyone indicating that we need a "precise" definition, and I certainly didn't call for one. Starting down the road to answering these questions without getting bogged down in emotion for right now seems a good enough goal!
If you love all humans, why not just extendig this love to said groups of beings?
Are you asking me personally, or is this another rhetorical question? If the former, I'd ask you what makes you think I don't? I could be wrong, but it seems to me that you make assumptions of this kind rather freely.
Or ditching the notion of personhood, as it seems that it is extreemly difficult to find a solution which suffices? Why not just recognizing that this way is wrong (because there is no really good and wieldable definition of personhood) and just backtrack? What would that change in your live? Most likely absolutely nothing.
Humans are very bad at ditching something just because it's hard! We tend to work at problems until solutions can be found. We tend to ask questions until answers are discovered. That applies here as well as it does in chemistry or physics.

What would change? Worldview.

Look at the culture around you: we are right now in a great moment of fundamental change of worldview. All because people are asking hard questions and demanding more than merely sufficient answers. The last century and a half has been one of monumental leaps in social evolution: issues of slavery, human rights, social justice, questions of basic human dignity, political rights applying to all, from child laborers in the mid 19th century to the legal and moral standing of same sex unions and humanity's place within the environment in the present day.

It is a basic drive of humans to sort out issues, and as we come to recognise the potential of personhood in other animals, we will not stop until the question is answered one way or the other. At this point in time, I do not believe we are close to that answer, if only because we have not yet been able to determine the full nature of the question and by what means we may best answer it once we get the question itself sorted out.
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Re: Why do soldiers risk their lives in wars?

Post by elemtilas » Thu 25 Jun 2015, 14:06

Xonen wrote:
elemtilas wrote:
Xonen wrote:
elemtilas wrote:However, it ìs how we discuss things like personhood with each other.
True - but a lot of people have never engaged in such discussions, and again, many would have difficulty conceiving of such things in terms us modern-day Westerners would be familiar with. Point being, just because someone's ideas of such things may be utterly alien and incommunicable to us at present, doesn't necessarily mean they're wholly non-existent. Dolphins (and some other animals) have been shown to recognize themselves in a mirror, which probably requires at least some understanding of the self.
No doubt! But my point is simply that we cán talk about these things, we can work on understanding them, they can work on understanding us, we can focus on each other and learn about these things we had no conception of before.
To some degree. At the same time, though, we are incredibly resistant towards actually accepting any new ideas. [¬.¬] We're not as smart as a species as we like to think.
No doubt. Self conceit is no problem!

I don't really agree about "incredible" resistance. Sure, there is "some" resistance to new ideas; but there must be vastly more acceptance of new ideas, otherwise, we'd still be bashing each other in the head with randomly selected rocks and sticks!
I'm well aware that our species is extremely good at deluding itself. [¬.¬] But if there's a risk of anthropomorphizing animals, I'd say there's also a risk of seeing ourselves as more special than we really are. And that's what I'm trying to argue against. There is no fundamental qualitative difference between the way our brains and those of animals work, even if do seem to have some quantitative advantage.
Point taken -- at least for my part, while I agree that there is risk in overemphasising our own specialness, at least we have evidence for it! I also think there are risks in overemphasizing animals' specialness especially when evidence is lacking.
I haven't said anything about animals being "special", quite the opposite. [/quote]

I didn't say you did! I did. And there is indeed a risk: coupled with that tendency to humanise things that are not, we may well walk ourselves right into the trap of defining animals as "people" that have no business being so defined! Simply because we feel like it's the right thing to do! Because they seem so like us! (When in reality it's more likely that we are still more like them than not!)
And there's plenty of evidence that they can be quite intelligent, it's just a matter of what conclusions to draw from it.
Exactly my point. I am simply of the opinion that, at this time, we can not yet draw a conclusion. One way or the other. We have some data that points to something, but we don't know what that something is. We don't even really have a good grasp on the parameters of the question. It's really only relatively recently that we have been able to apply the question to our own species in full! It really wasn't that long ago that certain humans in the U.S. were considered 3/5 of a person (for purposes of, for example, census taking). This would be unthinkable anymore.

We may well come to the point when it shall be unthinkable for dolphins and chimps to be considered anything other than people -- we're not at that point yet.
I'd say we cannot know exactly how animals perceive themselves (except for the ones that are able to tell us something about it; then it becomes a question of whether or not we believe them), so you can't make any absolute pronouncements on that subject, either.
I have no reason to disbelieve them.
Everywhere you turn on Earth, there is evidence of humanity's intelligence & handiwork from ancient fire pits to modern nuclear waste sump sites and a distinct lack of that for every other kind of animal.
Absence of evidence isn't necessarily evidence of absence.[/quote]

Indeed not! However absence of any evidence at all doesn't help us much in considering the question at hand. Especially in light of the fact that we dó have evidence for our own past activities.
The fact that dolphins don't build fires might be because they're too dumb, but it might also be at least partially because they have flippers for hands and live in an environment that's slightly too damp most of the time for fire to be of much use. [;)]
Thank you for stating the obvious! As if the example given was the only possible measure! [o.O]
As for nuclear waste dump sites, those are, you know, a fairly recent invention.
Yes, they are. And they will certainly be long enduring! Long after all the more ephemeral evidence is gone, that at least will bear silent witness.

The point is this: throughout human history, we have been making evidence that points to our cognitive abilities, our intelligence, or status as persons. And other human-like animals did the same: Neanderthal tools & burials and so forth. For all the intelligence of other kinds of animals, we don't see that kind of activity ancient or recent. Even if elephants and dolphins decided long ago not to pursue the paths of crass materialism in culture, I would expect that our close cousins (chimps) would follow roughly the same pathways as we and our other cousins did.
Humans were certainly persons before they were invented, and even tens if not hundreds of thousands of years earlier. Our runaway cultural evolution only really started with the agricultural revolution, and it's been gaining speed exponentially for the last couple of centuries - but our brains are physically still pretty much the same as they were a hundred thousand years ago.
Agreed on all those points.
Our ability to build fires and nuclear waste dump sites is a result of a combination of intelligence, exceptionally nimble fingers, and favorable circumstances - not of intelligence alone. Still, I'm not claiming that any other animal is as intelligent as we are. Just that the possibility that some of them might be intelligent enough to qualify as "persons" cannot be ruled out. At least not without adopting a definition of "person" that would seem to disqualify at least some humans.
Yet we are not the only ones to be so favoured! Other close kin have developed along similar lines -- other hominid species. If we consider humans of fifty or a hundred thousand years ago "people" -- and I see no reason not to -- then I'd also consider close kindreds to be "people" as well. That only brings us back to the question: what's so damn different about our slightly more distant kindreds, the other great apes, that are giving us so much gyp? They are intelligent, they have similarly nimble fingers -- who knows what favorable circumstances they may have passed up?

I never said you claimed any other animal was "as intelligent" as we are. As for intelligence enough -- I am not convinced that this alone is a good criterion for personhood. It's certainly one piece of the puzzle, but is this really a one piece puzzle? I would hazard the guess that the computer that beat the human Jeopardy players was, by some definition anyway, "intelligent" and possibly more intelligent than an average fifth grader. I wouldn't say that this computer is a person. I wouldn't say that smart people are more of a person than unintelligent people. Or that infants, who are really not all that smart!, are not people at all.

I would prefer to leave out the possibility of "disqualifying" certain humans. That's a dangerous slope down to a precipice that we have managed to most laboriously climb away from! I'd rather not allow for definitions of "person" that allow us to depersonise some humans, even if that means personising some animals. For me, then, I assume that all "human beings", from conception right on up to physical death are "persons", regardless of any of the regardlesses. And that includes intelligence, maturity, "mental defect", etc etc. Let's just stick to the consideration of other animals!
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Re: Why do soldiers risk their lives in wars?

Post by Xonen » Thu 25 Jun 2015, 17:14

elemtilas wrote:
Xonen wrote:Somehow I get the feeling we're talking past each other here. That photo was a direct response to a definition advocated in this very discussion, according to which dolphins aren't persons because they haven't demanded "just compensation" or whatever. I was pointing out that those people were undeniably persons despite very much probably failing that same definition!
For what vèry little it worths any more in this discussion, I am the one who mentioned "just compensation" (or whatever!). I didn't say anything about "demanding" it! I think there is way too much (accidental or careless) putting words in others' mouths here.
For my part, sorry about that. I didn't think the exact wording mattered that much in this case, but I'll try to be more careful with these from now on.
As far as I can tell, the video shows dolphins able to answer simple yes/no questions about their immediate environment. If they were people, surely they would be able to behave in ways and communicate about ideas above and beyond those we might expect from an animal.
Well, that's approaching a circular definition again: they're animals because they behave and communicate in ways we'd expect from animals? (Also, I think that, again, a lot of humans might be classified as animals by that definition. [:P])

Still, if we phrase this in terms of "capacity for abstract thought", that is, the ability to think beyond one's immediate surroundings, then yes, maybe that is something where humans are much more developed. Again, though, it's difficult to know for sure.
elemtilas wrote:I don't really agree about "incredible" resistance. Sure, there is "some" resistance to new ideas; but there must be vastly more acceptance of new ideas, otherwise, we'd still be bashing each other in the head with randomly selected rocks and sticks!
Granted, when it comes to bashing each other in the head, we can be remarkably inventive. :roll: And of course, it depends on the individual; some of us are fairly open to new ideas, especially when young, but others will demand that you recant your heretical views on heliocentrism or face excommunication. Who knows where we might be by now if it weren't for that latter type of people doing their damnedest to hold back all progress?
what's so damn different about our slightly more distant kindreds, the other great apes, that are giving us so much gyp? They are intelligent, they have similarly nimble fingers -- who knows what favorable circumstances they may have passed up?
Actually, finger dexterity in other apes appears to be "significantly more restricted than in humans". As for circumstances, it's of course again something we can't know. Maybe we need to set up an experiment where we place a community of chimps on the savannah with no access to forests, wait for ten thousand years, and see if they make any progress? [:P]
I never said you claimed any other animal was "as intelligent" as we are. As for intelligence enough -- I am not convinced that this alone is a good criterion for personhood. It's certainly one piece of the puzzle, but is this really a one piece puzzle? I would hazard the guess that the computer that beat the human Jeopardy players was, by some definition anyway, "intelligent" and possibly more intelligent than an average fifth grader. I wouldn't say that this computer is a person. I wouldn't say that smart people are more of a person than unintelligent people. Or that infants, who are really not all that smart!, are not people at all.

I would prefer to leave out the possibility of "disqualifying" certain humans. That's a dangerous slope down to a precipice that we have managed to most laboriously climb away from! I'd rather not allow for definitions of "person" that allow us to depersonise some humans, even if that means personising some animals. For me, then, I assume that all "human beings", from conception right on up to physical death are "persons", regardless of any of the regardlesses. And that includes intelligence, maturity, "mental defect", etc etc. Let's just stick to the consideration of other animals!
Well, but that's the crux of the problem, isn't it? We either accept the circular definition that a person must be human, or we may have to come up with a definition that excludes some humans.

For the record, I do not advocate eating babies.
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Re: Why do soldiers risk their lives in wars?

Post by elemtilas » Thu 25 Jun 2015, 19:58

Xonen wrote:
elemtilas wrote:For what vèry little it worths any more in this discussion, I am the one who mentioned "just compensation" (or whatever!). I didn't say anything about "demanding" it! I think there is way too much (accidental or careless) putting words in others' mouths here.
For my part, sorry about that. I didn't think the exact wording mattered that much in this case, but I'll try to be more careful with these from now on.
No worries!
As far as I can tell, the video shows dolphins able to answer simple yes/no questions about their immediate environment. If they were people, surely they would be able to behave in ways and communicate about ideas above and beyond those we might expect from an animal.
Well, that's approaching a circular definition again: they're animals because they behave and communicate in ways we'd expect from animals? (Also, I think that, again, a lot of humans might be classified as animals by that definition. [:P])
Well, humans áre animals! Some kind of ape, as I understand it. Though, it might just be we'd be tossed out of the family reunion for bad behaviour!
Still, if we phrase this in terms of "capacity for abstract thought", that is, the ability to think beyond one's immediate surroundings, then yes, maybe that is something where humans are much more developed. Again, though, it's difficult to know for sure.
It may well be that a basic criterion (like "capcity for...") is not sufficient. We might also need to think three dimensionally -- perhaps not just capacity for but also some level of capacity.
elemtilas wrote:I don't really agree about "incredible" resistance. Sure, there is "some" resistance to new ideas; but there must be vastly more acceptance of new ideas, otherwise, we'd still be bashing each other in the head with randomly selected rocks and sticks!
Granted, when it comes to bashing each other in the head, we can be remarkably inventive. :roll: And of course, it depends on the individual; some of us are fairly open to new ideas, especially when young, but others will demand that you recant your heretical views on heliocentrism or face excommunication. Who knows where we might be by now if it weren't for that latter type of people doing their damnedest to hold back all progress?[/quote]

Blown to extinction by now, I'll warrant. [O.O]
what's so damn different about our slightly more distant kindreds, the other great apes, that are giving us so much gyp? They are intelligent, they have similarly nimble fingers -- who knows what favorable circumstances they may have passed up?
Actually, finger dexterity in other apes appears to be "significantly more restricted than in humans".[/quote]

Surely we all had to start somewhere!
As for circumstances, it's of course again something we can't know. Maybe we need to set up an experiment where we place a community of chimps on the savannah with no access to forests, wait for ten thousand years, and see if they make any progress? [:P]
Right. You write up the proposal, I'll see to it the gubmint pays us handsomely for the duration! :mrgreen:
I never said you claimed any other animal was "as intelligent" as we are. As for intelligence enough -- I am not convinced that this alone is a good criterion for personhood. It's certainly one piece of the puzzle, but is this really a one piece puzzle? I would hazard the guess that the computer that beat the human Jeopardy players was, by some definition anyway, "intelligent" and possibly more intelligent than an average fifth grader. I wouldn't say that this computer is a person. I wouldn't say that smart people are more of a person than unintelligent people. Or that infants, who are really not all that smart!, are not people at all.

I would prefer to leave out the possibility of "disqualifying" certain humans. That's a dangerous slope down to a precipice that we have managed to most laboriously climb away from! I'd rather not allow for definitions of "person" that allow us to depersonise some humans, even if that means personising some animals. For me, then, I assume that all "human beings", from conception right on up to physical death are "persons", regardless of any of the regardlesses. And that includes intelligence, maturity, "mental defect", etc etc. Let's just stick to the consideration of other animals!
Well, but that's the crux of the problem, isn't it? We either accept the circular definition that a person must be human, or we may have to come up with a definition that excludes some humans.
Or...we find a different definition! A third (and maybe even a fourth and fifth way...) I think it's pretty fundamental to all our well being, liberty, pursuit of happiness, etc that we're all "people". If we start down the road (again!) of calling some people, well, not people, then we very easily risk expanding that category. Those ex-people stand to lose out on all sorts of rights, responsibilities, benefits and opportunities that actual people have. As a species, we've been there and done that. We need to sort what it is that makes us 'different' (otherwise, there's no point in having the word or concept "people" at all!); and then from there see who else might (or might not) fit in.

And anyway, the definition of "person" could indeed be fairly broad; and as I think I said earlier, there could even be different "levels" -- a hierarchy -- of personhood. Just to take that German court decision: I am pretty sure that the chimps in question were not granted German citizenship or EU passports or given the right to vote. I could be wrong but I have the feeling they have absolutely zero comprehension of what has happened to them -- they are not aware of peoples concerns, arguments, legal battles, etc. They don't know what the fuss is about and are ignorant of the ramifications. That doesn't mean I disagree entirely with the decision: they dó exhibit traits and behaviours that, at least to some extent, we'd equate with personhood. I wouldn't have a problem with some number of definitions of "limited personhood", for example (and only as applies to beings formerly considered "animals" -- not people being demoted).
For the record, I do not advocate eating babies.
Thank heavens for that! Mr Swift, I was beginning to wonder! [}:D]
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Re: Why do soldiers risk their lives in wars?

Post by Keenir » Thu 25 Jun 2015, 23:13

elemtilas wrote: Especially in light of the fact that we dó have evidence for our own past activities.

Yet we are not the only ones to be so favoured! Other close kin have developed along similar lines -- other hominid species. If we consider humans of fifty or a hundred thousand years ago "people" -- and I see no reason not to -- then I'd also consider close kindreds to be "people" as well. That only brings us back to the question: what's so damn different about our slightly more distant kindreds, the other great apes, that are giving us so much gyp? They are intelligent, they have similarly nimble fingers -- who knows what favorable circumstances they may have passed up?
pretty much every member of our genus (from H.sapien to H.erectus), and a number of Australopithicines (the famous "Lucy among them) were very good at leaving knapped stones wherever they went...and a few even made very very early fishing poles/spears.
Xonen wrote:
elemtilas wrote:
Xonen wrote:Somehow I get the feeling we're talking past each other here. That photo was a direct response to a definition advocated in this very discussion, according to which dolphins aren't persons because they haven't demanded "just compensation" or whatever. I was pointing out that those people were undeniably persons despite very much probably failing that same definition!
For what vèry little it worths any more in this discussion, I am the one who mentioned "just compensation" (or whatever!). I didn't say anything about "demanding" it! I think there is way too much (accidental or careless) putting words in others' mouths here.
For my part, sorry about that. I didn't think the exact wording mattered that much in this case, but I'll try to be more careful with these from now on.
As far as I can tell, the video shows dolphins able to answer simple yes/no questions about their immediate environment. If they were people, surely they would be able to behave in ways and communicate about ideas above and beyond those we might expect from an animal.
Well, that's approaching a circular definition again: they're animals because they behave and communicate in ways we'd expect from animals? (Also, I think that, again, a lot of humans might be classified as animals by that definition. [:P])
Such as?

I mean, I know people can be insulting, but I don't think even the Piraha are regarded that poorly these days.
elemtilas wrote:I don't really agree about "incredible" resistance. Sure, there is "some" resistance to new ideas; but there must be vastly more acceptance of new ideas, otherwise, we'd still be bashing each other in the head with randomly selected rocks and sticks!
Granted, when it comes to bashing each other in the head, we can be remarkably inventive. :roll: And of course, it depends on the individual; some of us are fairly open to new ideas, especially when young, but others will demand that you recant your heretical views on heliocentrism or face excommunication. Who knows where we might be by now if it weren't for that latter type of people doing their damnedest to hold back all progress?[/quote]

oh for F's sake.

here's a definition of person: a form of animal with enough brains to reject and even bash an idea or collection of ideas.
For the record, I do not advocate eating babies.
Good. they taste terrible. even in their shells.
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Re: Why do soldiers risk their lives in wars?

Post by Keenir » Thu 25 Jun 2015, 23:21

Xonen wrote:
Keenir wrote:
Xonen wrote:
Keenir wrote:
Our ability to build fires and nuclear waste dump sites is a result of a combination of intelligence, exceptionally nimble fingers, and favorable circumstances - not of intelligence alone. Still, I'm not claiming that any other animal is as intelligent as we are. Just that the possibility that some of them might be intelligent enough to qualify as "persons" cannot be ruled out. At least not without adopting a definition of "person" that would seem to disqualify at least some humans.
And what definition would exclude humans nowadays?

You (I think you) keep harping about how definitions of "people" would exclude certain social and ethnic groups as they were seen centuries ago. So PLEASE, what humans would be excluded now?
The aforementioned Sentinelese? Or other uncontacted tribes, or tribes who have been contacted but decided they actually quite like living in the jungle without electricity or Jesus, thank you very much?
my god, you're the only one talking about jesus.

granted, maybe I missed the post where someone said that dolphins aren't human because dolphins don't believe in Jesus.
That was meant to be a joking reference to the fact that isolated tribes often receive their first contact with Western culture through Christian missionaries.
Even if they'd, say, all been somehow wiped out yesterday, why would that be relevant?
I said according to views which are no longer held; I never mentioned extermination.
You actually said "what definition would exclude humans nowadays", in response to me saying that people who've lived in the past were still people. I was merely pointing out that there are still people who live like that, and even if there for some reason weren't, that would hardly be relevant for our discussion.
agreed.

I was responding to the photo and its contents -- which are the product (the exhibit and what caused it) of a view no longer held. that is why I specified _nowadays_.
I want to know what definition you're advocating, since you keep claiming that, if we don't say that dolphins are people, then humans aren't people...and your only evidence was a photo of how some humans used to be kept in zoos.
Well I-Did-Not-Say-That-Either. [:S]

Somehow I get the feeling we're talking past each other here.
*nods* I agree. I was referring to the context which created that photo, while you (I am learning) were referring only to the people shown in the photo.
That photo was a direct response to a definition advocated in this very discussion, according to which dolphins aren't persons because they haven't demanded "just compensation" or whatever. I was pointing out that those people were undeniably persons despite very much probably failing that same definition!

Everything I've said in this thread has been in response to definitions being advocated right now. It's just that any definition adopted right now must take into account that people who lived in the past, or who live in the present like we used to in the past, are still persons.
I agree with the latter (though the analogy that their way of life is unchanged, is inexact)...but not so much to the former -- it would be like arguing, "well, we're going to discuss dolphin behavior, so we need to include Basiliosaurus and Odontocetus too."
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Re: Why do soldiers risk their lives in wars?

Post by Tanni » Fri 26 Jun 2015, 10:27

As far as I can tell, the video shows dolphins able to answer simple yes/no questions about their immediate environment. If they were people, surely they would be able to behave in ways and communicate about ideas above and beyond those we might expect from an animal.
Well, that's approaching a circular definition again: they're animals because they behave and communicate in ways we'd expect from animals? (Also, I think that, again, a lot of humans might be classified as animals by that definition. [:P])

Still, if we phrase this in terms of "capacity for abstract thought", that is, the ability to think beyond one's immediate surroundings, then yes, maybe that is something where humans are much more developed. Again, though, it's difficult to know for sure.
Maybe Kleist will help you to get a new aspect of the problem, otherwise, see here.
Xonen wrote:
elemtilas wrote:I don't really agree about "incredible" resistance. Sure, there is "some" resistance to new ideas; but there must be vastly more acceptance of new ideas, otherwise, we'd still be bashing each other in the head with randomly selected rocks and sticks!
Granted, when it comes to bashing each other in the head, we can be remarkably inventive. :roll: And of course, it depends on the individual; some of us are fairly open to new ideas, especially when young, but others will demand that you recant your heretical views on heliocentrism or face excommunication. Who knows where we might be by now if it weren't for that latter type of people doing their damnedest to hold back all progress?
Consider the case of the perpetual motion machine. The French academy of sciences stopped accepting proposals for a perpetual motion machine in 1775 for it is impossible. So there's a third possibility: to recognize that the original ''new'' idea was wrong. You don't need ''vastly more acceptance of new ideas'' but more wit in dealing with them.
Keenir wrote:...and a few even made very very early fishing poles/spears.
Maybe they've made lots of more, but they simply didn't make it through the times ...
Keenir wrote:here's a definition of person: a form of animal with enough brains to reject and even bash an idea or collection of ideas.
here's a definition of person: a form of animal with enough brains to reject and even bash an idea or collection of ideas, if not hampered by unlucky circumstances.
Last edited by Tanni on Fri 26 Jun 2015, 10:47, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Why do soldiers risk their lives in wars?

Post by Lao Kou » Fri 26 Jun 2015, 10:42

Tanni wrote:
Keenir wrote:here's a definition of person: a form of animal with enough brains to reject and even bash an idea or collection of ideas.
here's a definition of person: a form of animal with enough brains to reject and even bash an idea or collection of ideas, if not hampered by unlucky circumstances.
Well thank goodness that's solved. :mrgreen:
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Re: Why do soldiers risk their lives in wars?

Post by qwed117 » Fri 26 Jun 2015, 15:51

Lao Kou wrote:
Tanni wrote:
Keenir wrote:here's a definition of person: a form of animal with enough brains to reject and even bash an idea or collection of ideas.
here's a definition of person: a form of animal with enough brains to reject and even bash an idea or collection of ideas, if not hampered by unlucky circumstances.
here's a definition of person: a form of animal with enough brains to reject and even bash an idea or collection of ideas, if not hampered by unlucky circumstances or vague superstition.
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Re: Why do soldiers risk their lives in wars?

Post by Keenir » Fri 26 Jun 2015, 19:09

Tanni wrote:
Xonen wrote:
elemtilas wrote:I don't really agree about "incredible" resistance. Sure, there is "some" resistance to new ideas; but there must be vastly more acceptance of new ideas, otherwise, we'd still be bashing each other in the head with randomly selected rocks and sticks!
Granted, when it comes to bashing each other in the head, we can be remarkably inventive. :roll: And of course, it depends on the individual; some of us are fairly open to new ideas, especially when young, but others will demand that you recant your heretical views on heliocentrism or face excommunication. Who knows where we might be by now if it weren't for that latter type of people doing their damnedest to hold back all progress?
Consider the case of the perpetual motion machine. The French academy of sciences stopped accepting proposals for a perpetual motion machine in 1775 for it is impossible. So there's a third possibility: to recognize that the original ''new'' idea was wrong. You don't need ''vastly more acceptance of new ideas'' but more wit in dealing with them.
except that perpetual motion machines do exist.
* the solar system
* the carbon cycle

there just aren't any human-made ones.
Keenir wrote:...and a few even made very very early fishing poles/spears.
Maybe they've made lots of more, but they simply didn't make it through the times ...
and maybe they made spaceships that turn rabbits into dragons.
Keenir wrote:here's a definition of person: a form of animal with enough brains to reject and even bash an idea or collection of ideas.
here's a definition of person: a form of animal with enough brains to reject and even bash an idea or collection of ideas, if not hampered by unlucky circumstances.
the irony, it burns!
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Re: Why do soldiers risk their lives in wars?

Post by qwed117 » Fri 26 Jun 2015, 19:24

Keenir wrote:
Tanni wrote:
Xonen wrote:
elemtilas wrote:I don't really agree about "incredible" resistance. Sure, there is "some" resistance to new ideas; but there must be vastly more acceptance of new ideas, otherwise, we'd still be bashing each other in the head with randomly selected rocks and sticks!
Granted, when it comes to bashing each other in the head, we can be remarkably inventive. :roll: And of course, it depends on the individual; some of us are fairly open to new ideas, especially when young, but others will demand that you recant your heretical views on heliocentrism or face excommunication. Who knows where we might be by now if it weren't for that latter type of people doing their damnedest to hold back all progress?
Consider the case of the perpetual motion machine. The French academy of sciences stopped accepting proposals for a perpetual motion machine in 1775 for it is impossible. So there's a third possibility: to recognize that the original ''new'' idea was wrong. You don't need ''vastly more acceptance of new ideas'' but more wit in dealing with them.
except that perpetual motion machines do exist.
* the solar system
* the carbon cycle

there just aren't any human-made ones.
Those aren't perpetual motion machines. Perpetual motion means that entropy doesn't increase, which is generally taken to be impossible with the magic of friction. The planets in the solar system gradually get closer to the sun as they slow down. It's very slight, and barely extant. The carbon cycle is dependent on life, which is dependent on the sun, making the carbon cycle nonperpetual.
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Re: Why do soldiers risk their lives in wars?

Post by Xonen » Fri 26 Jun 2015, 21:27

elemtilas wrote:Or...we find a different definition! A third (and maybe even a fourth and fifth way...) I think it's pretty fundamental to all our well being, liberty, pursuit of happiness, etc that we're all "people". If we start down the road (again!) of calling some people, well, not people, then we very easily risk expanding that category. Those ex-people stand to lose out on all sorts of rights, responsibilities, benefits and opportunities that actual people have. As a species, we've been there and done that. We need to sort what it is that makes us 'different' (otherwise, there's no point in having the word or concept "people" at all!); and then from there see who else might (or might not) fit in.

And anyway, the definition of "person" could indeed be fairly broad; and as I think I said earlier, there could even be different "levels" -- a hierarchy -- of personhood. Just to take that German court decision: I am pretty sure that the chimps in question were not granted German citizenship or EU passports or given the right to vote. I could be wrong but I have the feeling they have absolutely zero comprehension of what has happened to them -- they are not aware of peoples concerns, arguments, legal battles, etc. They don't know what the fuss is about and are ignorant of the ramifications. That doesn't mean I disagree entirely with the decision: they dó exhibit traits and behaviours that, at least to some extent, we'd equate with personhood. I wouldn't have a problem with some number of definitions of "limited personhood", for example (and only as applies to beings formerly considered "animals" -- not people being demoted).
I don't think we actually disagree on much here. I just seem to have the bad habit of getting hung up on arguments I don't entirely agree with even if I more or less accept the conclusion. [:P]

Keenir wrote:
That photo was a direct response to a definition advocated in this very discussion, according to which dolphins aren't persons because they haven't demanded "just compensation" or whatever. I was pointing out that those people were undeniably persons despite very much probably failing that same definition!

Everything I've said in this thread has been in response to definitions being advocated right now. It's just that any definition adopted right now must take into account that people who lived in the past, or who live in the present like we used to in the past, are still persons.
I agree with the latter (though the analogy that their way of life is unchanged, is inexact)...but not so much to the former -- it would be like arguing, "well, we're going to discuss dolphin behavior, so we need to include Basiliosaurus and Odontocetus too."
I meant people with a brain physically like ours (i.e. Homo sapiens sapiens, maybe about a hundred thousand years back). Other species of hominins would provide us with a lot more of that grey area, no doubt, but perhaps it's fortunate for this discussion that they're all dead.
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Re: Why do soldiers risk their lives in wars?

Post by elemtilas » Fri 26 Jun 2015, 23:52

Xonen wrote:
elemtilas wrote:Or...we find a different definition!
I don't think we actually disagree on much here. I just seem to have the bad habit of getting hung up on arguments I don't entirely agree with even if I more or less accept the conclusion. [:P]
Yay! (About the general lack of disagreement.) I tend to get hung up in arguments as well -- for me, that means the underlying ideas are interesting a/o the arguments of the other people are interesting, well laid out or in some way thought provoking.

Xonen wrote:Other species of hominins would provide us with a lot more of that grey area, no doubt, but perhaps it's fortunate for this discussion that they're all dead.
Begs the question: if we still had other sentient / intelligent / non Homo sapiens / etc kinds of people around now, might this change our perspective any? Would we even be having this kind of discussion? Or perhaps the discussion is finally being engaged upon in that other modern world...

(I can say that, for example, in The World, this kind of discussion is actually taking place at high social levels (state & religious governance, mostly).)
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Re: Why do soldiers risk their lives in wars?

Post by cntrational » Sat 27 Jun 2015, 11:34

My definition:

people are what we point at when someone says "people".
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