Monthly Archives: June 2014

Police Persecute Professor: Police State?

The-Police-State-Vs.-Occupy-Wall-Street-This-Is-Not-Going-To-End-Well-For-Any-Of-Us

          On May 20, a female English professor from the Arizona State University was aggressively tossed and detained for failing to show identification to an officer. The officer claimed that she was jaywalking and asked her to present I.D. After refusing the officer, he sought to handcuff her, but she resisted. After he threw her to the ground, her dress lifted and she claimed that the officer moved to grab her groin. Once the officer and his partner lifted her off the ground, she kicked the officer in the shin. The professor was charged with aggravated assault….all because she didn’t show her I.D. Watch the video below:

Watch video HERE

This is what police used to look like

This is what police used to look like

          A private citizen should not have to show their identification to a public official just because they were ‘ordered’ to….’ordered’ are you serious? The more I listen and watch the news the more I am coming to believe that the United States, and many other western countries, are moving closer to an authoritarian style of government. I don’t like what I am seeing, and I don’t like where everything is going. This is one incident amongst a host of similar encounters with police. People read or watch these stories and they see how bad it is, but they never take action, they never lobby for change. Others simply try justify this police state nonsense by citing the necessity of law and order police tactics….bullshit!

“Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.”  ― Benjamin Franklin

This is what police look like now. A pseudo-military

This is what police look like now. A pseudo-military

          Studies show that law and order police tactics only serve to criminalize non criminals and stigmatize offenders. It increases rates of recidivism and focuses on retributive, punitive measures of ‘justice’. The focus should be on community policing and restorative justice measures which are proven to reconcile those offended and reduce rates of recidivism.

          All of this stems from the lack of educated police officers, the motives of the departments and the privatized, for-profit incarceration facilities that have literally turned convicted criminals into ‘customers’.

People have to stand up and say enough.


By: Steven Umbrello – Executive Editor

 

Science & Philosophy: The Divide

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          One of the main focuses here in The Diogenes Society is to look at things critically, and with a cynical eye. Most of you who keep up with science and philosophy would have heard the outcry from the philosophical community in response to Neil deGrasse Tyson’s dismissal of philosophy. Thats being said please take a look at the article below (Originally published on BigThink):

What’s the Latest?

 

 

Neil deGrasse Tyson recently joined the ranks of Stephen Hawking, Richard Feynman, and Lawrence Krauss when he called philosophy “distracting” and criticized it for not offering the kinds of tangible gains of science. In general, there are three main arguments that physicists have leveled at philosophers: “there’s the argument that philosophers don’t really gather data or do experiments, there’s the argument that practicing physicists don’t really use any philosophy in their work, and there’s the refrain that philosophers concern themselves too much with unobservables.”

 

 

What’s the Big Idea?

 

 

The distinctions that these questions posit between philosophy and science are ultimately untenable, says Ashutosh Jogalekar, a chemist and biotech worker at a startup in Cambridge, MA. Looking back on history, early scientists were often called “natural philosophers” because their thinking concerned the true state of nature. Even modern thinkers like Bohr and Heisenberg realized “that they simply could not talk about these far flung implications of physics without speaking philosophically.” Science is not a rote investigation that excludes the creativity and originality of philosophy, and philosophy often steps in to fill the gaps at the edges of scientific progress.

 

 

Read more at Scientific American

 

 

New_big_think_image by ORION D. JONES

This idea that philosophy has somehow become obsolete is a purveying idea that floats around a large portion of the scientific community…but not all! (See Sean Carroll’s defence of philosophy) The most disturbing part of all this is that the idea is held by very popular scientists, who hold the sway over the minds of many. I know this because I also am a big fan of scientists like Feynman, Tyson, Krauss and Hawking.

          I cant help but pity these public intellectuals. For such intelligent individuals to utter such statements is a clear indication that they lack any formal philosophical education. If they knew the benefits of philosophy of science, and how it asks the questions that leads science to search for the answers then perhaps they may change their positions. However, it seems that they have such a disdain for philosophy that they would not even be open to the idea… This is a sad state of affairs, and I think that it will only get worse.
          I love science, it is a passion of mine and it will always be. Since I was small I wanted to be a physicist, and now I am a student of philosophy of science. I chose that path because how important I felt philosophical inquiry was to science. I think that they are the same thing, but they ask different questions. Science without philosophy would feel shallow, and philosophy without science would feel futile!
Photo credit: Shutterstock


By: Steven Umbrello

THE THOUGHT EXPERIMENT

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            Aristotle said that heavier bodies fall faster than lighter bodies. If you were to drop a cannon ball and a musket ball from a tower then the cannon ball would hit the ground first. Galileo contradicted Aristotle’s claim using a thought experiment. Imagine that we tied together the heavier body to the lighter body and then dropped them. According to Aristotle’s theory, the compound ball is going to fall faster than either ball individually because it weighs more. But since they are tied together the musket ball would retard the speed of the cannon ball, making this compound ball fall slower than the cannonball. Intuitively, this is an absurdity. So Galileo concludes that Aristotle’s theory must be wrong.

             The only possibility left was that heavier bodies fall at the same rate as lighter bodies because the opposite of Aristotle’s theory is also absurd. What is fascinating about this thought experiment is it seems to give us knowledge about the world and how bodies fall, without presenting us with any facts or new information. And yet it seems like we can come away from the act of imagining with a new piece of knowledge. The philosophical questions surrounding thought experiments is how this is possible.

             If thought experiments didn’t give us knowledge then both philosophers and scientists would be out of a job. Because of this they want to say that thought experiments do give us knowledge. Nevertheless, those who accept them are divided. They argue between whether or not the knowledge is a priori or a posteriori. This is the Epistemological Puzzle of Thought Experiments. It asks: Where does this new knowledge come from?

            Execution: The way the thought experiment is executed in our minds and how we come to be convinced by the conclusions of the thought experiments. John Norton says that this is a psychological issue. The other issue has to do with the Justification that thought experiments seem to provide.

             Is the justification that we think we get ultimately based in experience or something else? Is the knowledge that we seem to get from some thought experiments a priori or a posteriori?

 

Brown on Thought Experiments

            Brown thinks that at least some thought experiments are a priori. This is because he thinks that the knowledge that we get from them cannot be got from experience alone, as in the example of Galileo’s cannon ball and musket ball. He says there are Extensive Properties in thought experiments and these have to do with the matter in an object, like mass, weight, height and volume. These properties he calls additive. The opposite are Intensive properties and don’t have to do with the amount of matter in an object(s) like temperature or density. These properties are not additive.

            Brown says to substitute extensive properties for weight in the original thought experiment, imagining that one ball is higher then the other, or has greater volume, then imagine how it will fall and you will derive the same contradiction in the original thought experiment. This shows that the rate at which objects fall is independent of all extensive properties. Brown says that we are not justified in believing this on the experience of the world. We have not observed objects of different mass, height, volume falling. He says we know this a priori.

            How can we have a priori knowledge about the way nature works? Brown’s answer rests on what he and Norton call the Platonic View of Laws of Nature, which state that laws of nature are not just correlations or constant conjunctions between physical things, they are actually relations between universal abstract properties. They are properties that exist independently of us, outside time and space.

Ex. Ideal gas law: Gas expands when heated. According to the Platonic view, if ideal gas law is a law of nature, it is because you have the abstract universal property of being a gas, and you have the property of expanding when heated, and if this is a law of nature there is a relation of nomic necessity. Every actual gas (every physical instantiations of the abstract property) in the world does in fact expand when heated.

             We can come to know laws through empirical observation, but the laws of nature do not just consist in observed correlation or physical connection. It is something more then that. Brown wants to say that we think of the laws of nature the same way we think in math—intuitively.

Norton on Thought Experiments 

            Norton, unlike Brown, is an empiricist, which means he thinks that all knowledge of the world comes from justification from experience and observation. He wants an account of thought experiments that is consistent with his empirical view. That is his first criterion. The second is that thought experiments must explain why some are not reliable while others are. Brown does not emphasize this point but Norton thinks it’s important. Norton thinks that while not all thought experiments have anti-thought experiments which contradict them, many do.

Ex. Imagine a helicopter that has infinitely long blade, will it fly? NO! The amount of lift that a helicopter generates is a function of the speed at which the propeller pushes down the air as well as the mass of air under the rooter. The mass of air is a function of how long the propeller is. The velocity is a function of how fast the rooter turns. In this case if you were to slow down the rooter you could generate the same amount of lift simply my lengthening the rooter.

            Imagine doubling the length of the rooter. Doing this more than doubles the amount of air under it. By doing this you will have the speed that it is needed to lift the copter. You can continue doubling the length. At one point you will have an infinitely long rooter that does not need to move at all to generate lift.

            This cannot be considered to be a reliable thought experiment. Thought experiments have to help us decide between them and their anti-thought experiments. To satisfy his two criteria, Norton thinks thought experiments are disguised arguments. This is a claim about both the execution and justification of thought experiments. Norton claims that all thought experiments can be reconstructed as arguments, and we are justified in accepting the conclusion of a thought experiment in so far as the argument that is built into it is a good one. All thought experiments can be reconstructed as arguments.

            Norton says that these thought experiments are reduction ad absurdum. An example would be Aristotle’s view on the two balls:

Ex.

1. Assumption: Heavier bodies fall faster than lighter ones.

2. Cannonball is heavier than a musketball.

3. If we combine heavier and lighter object, heavier object will speed up lighter object & lighter object will slow down heavier object.

4. If we combine the cannonball and musketball, the composite will fall slower then the cannonball.

5. The composite will be heavier than the cannonball.

6. The composite will fall faster than the cannonball. 

4 & 6 contradict, so 

1 must be false.

            We come to be convinced of the conclusions of thought experiments because, according to Norton, we have reconstructed the argument and have seen that it is a good argument.

            The challenge for the empiricist is, how we can get new empirical information from a thought experiment without putting any in? Norton says that if thought experiments are arguments, then like all arguments they take as premises knowledge or information that you already posses and they transform that knowledge. That new knowledge is implicit in that old knowledge. Therefore, if thought experiments are arguments then they are essentially doing the same thing. This is how Norton meets the first criterion.

            Norton says that if thought experiments are just arguments then the obvious explanation for why some TEs are good and some are bad is that some arguments are good, and some are not. Some may have bad premises or that they draw illegitimate inferences. Others will be good because the premises are justified and the conclusions follow logically from the premises.

Norton vs. Brown

             Norton says that his view explains why some TEs go awry and tells which are trustworthy and which are not. Norton thinks that Brown’s view can’t do those things. Brown says TEs go awry because our intellectual perception is fallible and sometimes wrong. Norton doesn’t consider this a good explanation, not unless Brown can tell us more about how intellectual perception works and how it fails. But Brown doesn’t seem to have any of this information, he doesn’t have a theory for how the intellectual perception works and no rules to determine when it is reliable and when it is not. So Norton believes that this is where his view is better.

            Another point of disagreement: Can all thought experiments be reconstructed into arguments? And should they be? Norton is able to draw out arguments from all of Brown’s thought experiments. Brown says that this does not show much however. Just because an argument can be drawn out doesn’t mean that this is what is happening in our minds. TEs are not justified because they can be transformed into arguments. Norton argues that is it not a bizarre coincidence that all thought experiments are able to be constructed as arguments—because they are in fact arguments.


 By: Steven Umbrello – Originally posted on The Leather Library Blog 

POLITICS, ORATORY & THE TELEPROMPTER: CICERO ON THE ORATOR

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          I never really gave it much thought until now, having read Cicero’s De Oratore (On the Orator), that the world, especially in politics, lacks great public speakers, or rather orators. In Cicero’s book, he outlines the importance of orators and what distinguishes a true orator from simply a public speaker. One of the main things that he stipulates is the necessity of the orator to be versed in philosophy:

“Let this then be laid down among the first principles, (and it will be better understood presently,)–that the eloquent man whom we are looking for cannot be rendered such without philosophy. Not indeed that there is everything necessary in philosophy, but that it is of assistance to an orator as the wrestling-school is to an actor; for small things are often compared with great ones. For no one can express wide views, or speak fluently on many and various subjects, without philosophy. Since also, in the Phaedrus of Plato, Socrates says that this is what Pericles was superior to all other orators in, that he had been a pupil of Anaxagoras the natural philosopher. And it was owing to him, in his opinion, (though he had learnt also many other splendid and admirable accomplishments,) that he was so copious and imaginative, and so thoroughly aware–which is the main thing in eloquence–by what kinds of speeches the different parts of men’s minds are moved.” – Cicero

          With philosophy you can argue from multiple levels and it aids the individual to build an eloquence in their speech to help move the hearts of the crowd that s/he is speaking to.  But besides all this – you can read his full account on the nature of the orator – I want to focus on the lacking of great orators in todays society, particularly in high level politics. When you watch a political leader on television they typically are reading off a teleprompter; a camera with a television screen that has the speech to be read on it. I cant help but feel that this takes away from the human element of it, the sincerity that would be derived if it were said impromptu.

“Six mistakes mankind keeps making century after century:
Believing that personal gain is made by crushing others;
Worrying about things that cannot be changed or corrected;
Insisting that a thing is impossible because we cannot accomplish it;
Refusing to set aside trivial preferences;
Neglecting development and refinement of the mind;
Attempting to compel others to believe and live as we do.” – Cicero

          Likewise, even the speeches that are given in public by political officials are rehearsed speeches that are not typically written by the individual speaker, but rather their staff and public relations administrators. Thats not to say that all of them do that, but the overwhelming majority does. The speeches they give are constructed to appeal to the particular audience that they are planning to speak to and have an emotive endgame built into them. Also, politicians are trained beforehand to memorize answers to possible queries that they may be asked during or after a speech, and particularly before debates.

“What is morally wrong can never be advantageous, even when it enables you to make some gain that you believe to be to your advantage. The mere act of believing that some wrongful course of action constitutes an advantage is pernicious.” – Cicero

          I don’t want you to think that the world is entirely devoid of true orators, that is not the case at all! Some of my most idolized people are great orators, and that is perhaps the case for that very fact! Michio Kaku is an example, and William Lane Craig, although I don’t agree with him, is a great orator nonetheless:

          It seems that we need more people learning the art of speech, joining debate clubs and practicing public speaking. I find it the mark of a great orator, and intellectual, to be able to respond to any questions especially under pressure. Recently I was flabbergasted by a half hour long international panel interview with Russian president Vladimir Putin, where he was bombarded with questions – some controversial –  to which he responded with highly intellectual answers with some great historical precedence:

          Now, Im not saying that Putin is a great orator, but rather I want you to focus on how he answers his questions and how he reacts to them. I find it an interesting and impressive interview. Of course Cicero would stipulate that there is much more that is necessary for an individual to possess to be called an orator, but all I am asking is that people look around and see that many of those speaking in public are simply human robots, spilling out words that they themselves did not write, and perhaps could never hope to truly understand.

          I leave you all to ponder this international lacking in proper speakers with a video of what Cicero would call an orator. Although it is all in Latin, watch how the orator speaks to the crowd:


By: Steven Umbrello – Originally posted on The Leather Library Blog

VLADIMIR PUTIN WARNS OBAMA OF INEVITABLE WORLD WAR

monsanto-putin-obama

          Earlier last year Vladimir Putin warned Obama about the consequences of his support over the bio-agricultural empire Monsanto and how the corporations’ products are causing a global ‘bee-apocalypse’.

          “The shocking minutes relating to President Putin’s meeting this past week with US Secretary of State John Kerry reveal the Russian leaders “extreme outrage” over the Obama regimes continued protection of global seed and plant bio-genetic giants Syngenta and Monsanto in the face of a growing “bee apocalypse” that the Kremlin warns “will most certainly” lead to world war.

          According to these minutes, released in the Kremlin today by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation (MNRE), Putin was so incensed over the Obama regime’s refusal to discuss this grave matter that he refused for three hours to even meet with Kerry, who had traveled to Moscow on a scheduled diplomatic mission, but then relented so as to not cause an even greater rift between these two nations”

Read Full Article here on Snopes.com 

          What is your opinion on Putin’s outrage? What is your position on monsanto and the growing controversy surrounding this American company? Personally I support Putin in this quest. The bees of course propagate pollen and are essential to agriculture, and their exterminate of course has some serious global consequences. Please let me know your thoughts in the comment section below.


 

By: Steven Umbrello – Originally posted on The Leather Library Blog

Scientific Explanations & Thought Experiments

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          Here at The Leather Library we have been having a lot of fun writing articles on the philosophy of science. There have been numerous articles outlining the basic tenets of the history of science, the demarcation criterion, scientific explanations and thought experiments. This post will summarize and document all of the articles that have been previously published on this site regarding scientific explanation by Hempel and Kitcher, as well as the nature of thought experiments. I hope that this comprehensive document is informative and fun to read!


 

By: Steven Umbrello – Originally Posted on The Leather Library Blog