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Everything posted by Hal

  1. While its certainly true that, in practice, concepts can only be formed by integration of perceptual data, I feel suspicious about claims that anything else would be 'impossibile'. For example, there doesnt seem to be any philosophical reason why an advanced knowledge of neuroscience wouldnt allow us to 'implant' concepts directly in people's minds, by physically altering the structure of their brain. Assuming that all our concepts are somehow represented in our brains, it seems like it would be possible (in theory at least) to create this representation directly rather than going through the channels which we currently use. This is obviously speculation since not enough is known about the brain yet to say with any degree of certainty what is possible, but this is preceisely why statements about things being 'impossible' are premature. As a concrete example of this, there doesnt seem to be any reason why I would have to see a red object in order to form the concept of 'red' - the experience of seeing red could almost certainly be induced in me by playing around with my brain (or perhaps by pressing on my eyelid with my finger). Saying that 'people who have never seen a cat couldnt ever form the concept of 'cat'" seems similar to saying "people who grew up in a black and white laboratory enviornment wouldnt be able to dream in colour". While this may or may not be true, I dont think we could decude the answer from philosophy alone - its a scientific question which can only be answered by empirical investigation. edit: And assuming that people who grew up in a black and white environment could dream in colour, wouldnt this conclusively demonstrate that the Humean claim about "dreams just being rearrangements of things we experence while awake" was false? Also, would this prove that our concepts of colours are innate? (this is really a question about what exactly the word 'innate' means, since I dont think its clear. There seems to be at least 2 subtelty different ways its being used within this thread - its one thing to say that we are born possessing concepts, and quite another to say that the brain is capable of generating its own experiences from which concepts can be formed).
  2. I find it extremely hard to beleive that IQ (not intelligence, which is different) cant increase. For instance, someone with a strong math background would almost certainly find the 'logic' based questions easier than someone without. Similarly, spatial intelligence can probably also be increased - when I first started playing Go (a board game), I found it very hard to visualise more than 2-3 moves ahead, but now that I've had a lot of practice, I can see quite a bit beyond this. Professional players can easily visualise 50-100 moves into the future (I would assume chess grandmasters are similar). This seems to suggest that IQ test-related things like rotating 3D objects can be improved with practice. It would be interesting to know if strong players of chess/go/other-games-requiring-mental-visualisation scored higher in spatial intelligence tests that the average person. I'd be interested in viewing any research which claimed to demonstrate that IQ scores were static, because the idea just strikes me as absurd. ~ On a sidenote, WHY would you want to increase your IQ? Wouldnt it be better to focus on improving your mental capacity in areas which have tangible benefits, such as becoming a better critical thinker, or a better learner, or a better abstract reasoner, rather than focusing on improving your skill at solving toy puzzles with little real world relevance?
  3. What does "linear time" mean in this context? I take it this is a technical term within music theory. because I'm having trouble understanding what it means for music to take place in non linear time :/ Also, I suspect that the word 'unified' (or 'integrated') is at least as vague as the word 'music' (ie, we all know what it means and can tell 'unified' pieces apart from 'ununified' ones, however giving a rigorous definition would be exceptionally difficult)
  4. What is "computer music"? Do you just mean programming computers to play random sounds, or would you include stuff like Autechre or Aphex Twin's more experimental pieces? Assuming you just mean artists using computers to help make music, or integrating computer generated sounds into their work in a deliberate manner, why shouldnt it be classed as music?
  5. A minor semantic quibble, but people are conscious while they are dreaming - this is what distinguishes dreamsleep from deep sleep and comatose states, where you arent conscious of anything (and hence dont dream). If youre actually having experiences, youre conscious by definition.
  6. He got a life sentence, he hardly escaped punishment. If the jurors really felt he 'wasnt responsible for his actions' I assume he'd have been found innocent or got a couple of years maximum.
  7. I'm sorry, I dont have a copy near me otherwise I'd have cited the page in my previous post (its at my parents house along with the rest of my books). However, I'm fairly sure its in the section titled "Volition as Axiomatic". There is a paragraph where Peikoff discusses how the basic choice (focus vs not focus) is fundunamentally unanalysable. edit: I'd also argue that this is implicit in every theory of volition, not just Peikoff's (although he makes it explicit). If 2 people can be in the exact same situation yet make different choices (or equivalently, if a person could have literally chosen different), then it follows that the person, at the moment of making the choice, is unconstrained by anything which science could possibly discover (since all the possible facts are not sufficient to determine the choice). Of course, this isnt an argument against volition (its just a restatement of what volition means), but I think it is an argument against the idea that choices can be 'influenced yet not determined' by physical processes, at least until we have a clearer idea of what 'influence' means.
  8. I think the issue heres go a lot deeper than this. In OPAR, Peikoff claims that the fundamental reason why people make the choices they do is unanalysable. It could be that 2 people feel the same urge in the same situation, yet one acts on it and the other doesnt. Why? Well, because they chose differently. But if all things were equal, why did they choose differently? Well, they just did. You cant ask for more reasons, thats the whole point of volition. Explanations have to come to an end somewhere. And its unclear how 'influence' or 'disposition' can fit into this picture. If 2 people with the exact same genetics and enviroment can make different choices, then I'm not sure what it could mean to say that the genes 'influence' the choice. How do they do this? Is it like a feeling in your head, nagging at you to choose X rather than Y? But even if you have this feeling, you can choose to ignore it and go for Y anyway. What makes a person choose to ignore the nagging urge? Well, I suppose this is fundamentally unanalysable, you cant ask for reasons here. Is the choice to ignore the nagging urge further influenced by another nagging urge (a meta-urge, as it were)? And what makes a person choose not to ignore that urge? And so on. Perhaps we could phrase things in a purely statistical manner - x% of people with gene G perform action A in some situation. And this sort of information may be useful. But it doesnt tell us how, in any particular case, the gene influences the choice (statistical descriptions do not explain the causal nexus).
  9. Is this meant to be a definition, or a scientific hypothesis? Are we ruling out the possibility of (eg) genes affecting whether a person succumbs to an urge on philosophical grounds? (When it comes to free will vs determinism, I think that phrasing the questions in an unambiguous, meaningful way requires even more work than finding the eventual ansewrs).
  10. I'm saying that they dont have any clear mearning when used to describe volitional systems, if volition is taken to describe some way of breaking free from the standard "genes+environment+life history = behavior" model of biological determinism. Not everything in nature is volitional however.
  11. I dont think its particularly clear what words like 'influence' mean in the context of volitional choices. If we are doing determinism, we can say that genes influence behavior in the sense that, given some particular environment, a person with gene X will do Y. In other words, 'influence' here means that the gene only governs behavior in conjunction with some enviornment (having the gene isnt sufficient for the behavior to occur, but without that gene, the environment wouldnt be sufficient either). And it is in precisely this sense that biologists will tell you behavior is influenced by genes. But if we are using volition, this cant be what 'influence' means, since the gene isnt determining regardless of what environmental variables you conjoin it with. If the choice is free, it doesnt really make sense to say that it is 'constrained' or 'influenced'. I might even be inclined to go as far as to say that using words like 'disposition' and 'influence' when you believe in volition is an instance of the stolen concept fallacy - these words only have clear meaning within the context of determinism.
  12. You havent signed any contract agreeing to pay for the food that youve just eaten either. However, it is implicit in the context of going to a restaurant that eating the food constitutes an agreement to purchase it (compare to eating food provided for you at someone's house, where a different social custom applies). I think the argument that tipping 10-15% is also implicit in the restaurant context is fairly sound, although the resulting system is silly. Fast food tastes nicer than most restaurant meals anyway (yeah I'm a philistine, sue me). But theres also buffets and the like, where you serve yourself.
  13. heh, one day I'll understand why people like NMH :/ However I do enjoy quite a few of the other bands on that list. Based on what you've given, I think you may also like Silver Jews - American Water, Sleater Kinney - The Woods, and maybe Broken Social Scene - You Forgot It In People. None of them are especially Objectivist, but the topic seems to have shifted.
  14. I'm not entirely sure what youre trying to say here, could you clarify? As far as I can tell, youre saying that the term 'music' should only be applied to pieces where the voice is being used as an instrument, rather than for conveying lyrical information (ie, the form should be more important than the lyrical content)? So this definition would then exclude a lot of pop music, because you think that the purpose of its vocals are to provide the listener with information? If this is a correct characterisation of your view, then I'd object for 2 reasons. Firstly, I'd argue that vocals in pop-music are often (normally?) included for the sound of the voice. Analysing Britney Speare's lyrics is really beside the point - you dont listen to her music to discover her views on love and teenage life - you listen to it because its catchy and you can dance to it. The voice is mainly there because it sounds nice, and adds a layer over the instruments, not because what shes saying is terribly important - its just another instrument. There are pop songs where the lyrical content is just as important as the form (most of hiphop would be an example of this), but even then, I dont think this is sufficient to make it not music. Secondly, I dont understand the part about 'vibrations of strings' and 'brass instruments' - it sounds like a definition by non-essentials. Sticking to pop-music, there are many examples of vocal sounds being integrated very effectively into the rest of the music, even when wood/brass instruments arent present. Because I generally prefer to use concrete cases when discussing music, the following short 30 second clips (1, 2, 3) are examples of what I consider interesting vocal experiments, yet none of them are based around what I would call traditional instrumentation, nor are they primarilly concerned with what the voices are saying (I cant make out the lyrics on the last 2). The overall sound is the most important thing, but this doesnt necessarily involve harmonisation with any specific type of instrument. edit: I'm assuming that cutting clips to 30 seconds is fair use since that's what amazon uses, but if not, let me know. edit2: Would you apply the same comments to (eg) Aretha Franklin, Frank Sinatra, and Marvin Gaye? Their voices are in the foreground to an even greater extent than Britney Speares.
  15. Without meaning to come across as rude, I would say thats just tough luck. If you dont feel that a job pays you well enough, then you should look for a better one. There's no great injustice here, its just market economics - as long as people are prepared to work for $2 an hour, employers will continue to offer $2 an hour. However, the fact that you have a low paying job does not mean that customers have any obligation to give you money. Personally I feel that paying employees is the duty of the employer rather than mine, hence I will normally only tip for service that goes above and beyond what is expected. If this results in staff not getting paid enough then they should find better jobs, just like everyone else. No, its to say that he should be paid by the people who are employing him rather than by me. Despite what I just said, I think this is fair enough. Its understandable that in certain contexts, tipping is expected - you can say its part of the implicit contract when you go into a restaurant. Therefore if I was to go into a restaurant where tipping was implied and all parties knew this beforehand, I would leave a tip and mentally include it as being part of the meal price ("adding 15% onto the menu listing", as it were). However, you should note that this completely defeats the purpose of tipping. The idea is meant to be that tipping encourages good service, since it's performance related. But if you think people should tip regardless of the performance, then there is no longer any benefit and it becomes yet another irrational social custom. What youre advocating isnt really performance-linked pay, its a bizarre system where the customer agrees to pay 15% of the waiter's basic wage. From the waiter's point of view, theres no difference between my system where the restaurant pays a proper wage and I tip up to 15% depending on quality of service, and your system where the restaurant pays a low wage and I tip between 15% and 30% depending on quality of service. However I would argue that mine is less awkward, has less potential for abuse, and just makes more obvious sense. On a sidenote, I dont think the 'they dont get paid much' argument applies to most of the jobs in the US which receive tips. As far as I know, you guys normally tip valets, doormen, bartenders (?!?!?!?!), and so on. I doubt any of these people are earning less than minimum wage. And along the same lines, why dont you tip fast-food workers? They provide a service just like the above workers, and I assume that they earn less than most of them. edit: Also, my more cynical side says that one of the main reasons people leave large tips is to impress the people they are with (or to avoid looking 'cheap', which is pretty much the same thing). I'd assume that people tend to tip more when they are out on dates to try and show off (since comments like "I'd judge a person based on the size of tip he leaves" are essentially restatements of Worthington's Law: someone who can afford to leave a $20 tip is obviously just a better person than someone who can only afford to leave $5), and the same applies to business lunches and the like. Of course, this will be rationalised as rewarding high quality service, but at the end of the day, who wants to be 'that guy'? Although I will mock this sort of behavior, I also admit that I would probably do the same if the situation called for it - if I were out at an important business lunch or whatever, I would try and ensure I didnt leave the smallest tip, even though I am poor and think the whole practice is stupid. But I bet Howard Roark wouldnt do this!!!
  16. I see this claim that Kerry is left-wing quite a lot, but who is this meant to be in comparasion to? Is there any reason to believe that he would have expanded the government to a greater extent than Bush has, or that he would have spent more money on socialist programs? From my limited knowledge of American politics, it looks like Bush has been one of the top 3 worst presidents in US history, and hes almost certainly been one of the biggest economic disasters youve had (large projected surplus -> record deficit + economy in tatters). Unless we managed to bring zombie FDR back from the dead, its hard to imagine how anyone could have done a worse job.
  17. I cant speak for him, but I'm not gay and theres lots of men I find attractive. Its no different from a woman saying that another woman looks beautiful - it doesnt mean they have any sexual feelings towards them, or a desire to sleep with them.
  18. Hal

    Municipal Water

    Would you apply the same standards if it was a private company? For instance, if your bank messed up your account and gave you an extra $1000, or your ISP messed up your internet access and gave you an uncapped connection by mistake?
  19. I guess what I'm asking is why the right to make copies is important, and deserving of legal protection. It strikes me as very arbitrary - there doesnt seem to be any difference between borrowing a CD, and downloading it then deleting it if you dont like it. The only tangible difference is that in the second case, the person who owns the original copy cant listen to it while you have it, so would it be ok if I downloaded the music while my friend was in bed, and deleted it before he woke up? In my opinion, the only reason the right to copy is deserving of protection is because it is indirectly related to the right to permanent ownership - in order to actually keep the music/book/film permanently, youre going to have to either buy it or make a copy. But the fundamental issue here is the permanent ownership, not the copying. If you just copy something then delete it, I dont think youre infringing upon the producers rights any more than you are if you just borrow it. If you want to actually keep the media and listen to it regularly, then you should reward the creators for their work. Butif you are just listening to it to see if its any good, there's no need to do this. I would say this is related to the above - regulating the 'copying' process has come to be seen as the end, rather than a means towards the end of regulating 'permanent ownership'. The idea that you cant make multiple copies for yourself has no objective basis. It depends how this is done. I suppose we can imagine a situation where in order to buy a CD, you would have to sign a contract saying that you cant do X, Y and Z. And assuming you did this, I would say you would be morally obliged to oblige by the terms of the contract. But these restrictions would only be imposed on the signers - I dont think they could validly form part of any implicit contract. I would treat all restrictions on how you listen to music the same way as I would treat a restriction saying you can only listen to the music while wearing red socks on a Tuesday. If you explicitly agree to a contract including these terms as part of a sale, then youre stuck with it. But if not, do as you please. I've not really thought about this, but I think it would depend on the nature of the performance. If it were non-commercial then I dont really have a problem with it - I think its perfectly ok for internet radio stations/podcasters to play music which they legally own without the permission of the artists, and I would say that this will be an important part of music listening in the future. Obviusly the record industry will try to clamp down on this, but this is to be expected since a) they apparently hate progress, and it might lose them money. The only restrictions here should apply to the listeners - I would frown on people making permanent copies from internet radio stations, and not paying the artists. I would also apply the same standards to normal radio - I think that taping things off the radio is just as bad as downloading music. This isnt really an issue at the moment thought, since streaming audio tends to be very low quality (64kps ish) and hence not comparable to proper recordings. Perhaps something like this could be the solution?
  20. I managed to find some actual data: This is one of the main reasons why I'm reluctant to buy CDs. You generally arent doing anything romantic like 'rewarding the productive' - your money is largely being used to prop up a parasitical industry, rather than actually going to those who make the product.
  21. This might be what you do when you buy a CD, but why do you think it applies to everyone (sorry, all 'music enthusiasts')? Personally when I get a CD, the first thing I do is rip the tracks from it in a lossless format onto my computer, then reencode them for my portable mp3 player. The liner notes are useful if they contain song lyrics, but other than that, who cares? The physical medium is entirely dispensible - the only reason why I dont throw the CD out immediately after ripping the tracks is in case I have an accident with my harddrive. Being a music enthuasist is about listening to music, not looking at pictures and reading liner notes. edit: I would guess that its people like me who most strongly resent paying $15 for a cd, when you know that at least half of that money is going to middlemen who should be obsolete (eg, the costs of producing the physical material, 'distribution' fees, retailers cuts, and so on). I have no problem with rewarding artists for their work, but I do have a large problem with funding a whole load of anachronistic clingers-on who shouldnt exist, and this is where most of the money involved in CD purchasing goes. If there was a way to legally download music which a) stocked artists other than those in the mainstream charts, was encoded at good quality (preferably lossless, but at least 228vbr), and c) let me actually own the songs rather than coming with stupid DRM restrictions, I'd definitely use it. However, the optimal solution would be for artists to include linkson their webpages, which allowed their fans to donate money directly. edit: I'd be interested in some real figures which showed how much money the artists actually received everytime you bought one of their cds. I dont have any data, but I'd be surprised if it was more than 20-30% of the price.
  22. Morally speaking, what is the difference between borrowing the CD from a friend to find out whether you like it, and downloading a copy from your friends computer to see whether you like it (assuming you delete it if you dont like it, and buy it if you do). I dont see any reason why the makers of a song should have any right to decide who gets to listen to the song - thats absurd, and when taken to its logical conclusion would result in laws banning you from playing music in front of your friends. Copyright should only apply to permanent ownership of the material in question, not 'listening privileges'. To be honest, I could take most of the 'anti-piracy' arguments given in this thread and use them with only minor modifications as arguments claiming its immoral to borrow books from your friends ("but what makes you think you have the right to read Atlas Shrugged without paying for it?!")
  23. The thing is, I find it almost impossible to imagine any rational context where questions like "does a blowjob/anal count as sex?" would arise and be valid things to ask. The only situation in which I can imagine someone raising this issue seriously would be where he's trying to get out of things on a technicality (eg Bill Clinton, or someone telling his girlfriend that he didnt 'really' cheat on her since it wasnt full sex, or a religious person telling themselves that they are still technically a virgin). Its just not the sort of thing which is ever going to come up in a reasonable conversation.
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