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Re: [bostonatheists] "No real rational basis to opposing benefits of family planning..."

From: David M
Sent on: Thursday, August 22, 2013 1:37 PM
Genes are important, but they pass through the environment to go from genotype to phenotype. The roles (or, to be more precise, how much of the variation among us they can account for) of these two factors is not going to be clarified by philosophical discussion. It requires bench science.

Genetics is likely irrelevant to a discussion of free will, unless there is a gene that allows some and not others to transcend physics. Free will is a discussion that lays on top of how our brains work. It is irrelevant how our brains got to that point since the working of both genes and environmental factors lead us to the same controversy -- can we transcend the chemistry of our brains and what is the significance of our decision making. I would liken it to considering the mode of transportation you took to get to a restaurant when rating their food. Perhaps you might consider that the traffic spoiled your mood, affecting how you felt about the food, but what you tasted is what you tasted.

Free will is not needed for a social infrastructure. One can easily argue that if people have true free will, social engineering is much harder. Disincentives like punishment may make even more sense the more mechanistically we view decision making. And we shouldn't lose perspective. If a bunch of neuroscientists finally solve the problem and find we have no free will in any sense, people will still live their lives with the same pro-social (or, in some cases, antisocial) impulses. In this scenario, if enough people agree that killing one another is bad, and if they are aware of this new finding of neuroscientists, they would pass laws and create institutions to influence people towards the behavior they want. The fact that we already create such laws and institutions shows that we intuitively know that people can be guided towards certain outcomes by manipulating their causal chain.



From: Eric Newbury <[address removed]>
To: [address removed]
Sent: Thursday, August 22,[masked]:42 AM
Subject: RE: [bostonatheists] "No real rational basis to opposing benefits of family planning..."

I’d say that’s both an interesting and self-defeating idea, though. I don’t know what I’d say about a genetic predisposition to be able to make ‘better’ decisions since those decisions would still be a product of some chance/mental wiring and you can’t help how your brain fires off electrical impulses – they just happen. Also, I’d say that the notion of ‘better’ or ‘worse’ decisions aren’t a factor in a discussion of free will since it’s not a criteria. All that is needed is that the decision’s genesis is strictly ‘yours’. Whatever that means. So, short answer – I don’t know.
 
I think in general, though, a ‘freethinking’ decision can easily be chalked up to different influences. For instance, if you’re the second generation of an immigrant family, once you are influenced by peers as appose to family, you don’t have an accent. Considering this, is it possible that even though you didn’t have the influence from your family, that the interaction you had with peers, both face to face and through media, allowed you to align yourself with a different ideology. That would still give you the current ‘software’ you have now that informs your ‘decisions’.
 
I think, overall, that my conflict is if we should even call this fact into question. Because once you compromise our philosophy of freewill, will everything be seen stripped of any ‘responsibility’, thus destroying most social infrastructures we have in place.
 
Just so everyone will REALLY hate me, lol, I could also call in to question ethics as a non-existence thing as well. (Only bringing it up cause the Nazi point).
 
TDA
 
From: [address removed] [mailto:[address removed]] On Behalf Of Deb Bobbinhead
Sent: Thursday, August 22,[masked]:18 AM
To: [address removed]
Subject: Re: [bostonatheists] "No real rational basis to opposing benefits of family planning..."
 
To eric. I think some people are genetically more able to make decisions.  Do u think one can learn to make decisions? I decided as a child to be atheistic despite my family culture. Others are followers from birth. So the question is whether there are moral leaders for them to follow. How about the French Huguenots during WWII occupation?  ministers got entire villages to take in Jewish children and thereby risk Nazi retaliation.  Followers. Decisions - most don't really make them. IMHO
Den
 

On Aug 22, 2013, at 10:39 AM, Eric Newbury <[address removed]> wrote:
I’d still say that it’s still possible that having ‘fat’ genes was a thing, just that it was more complicated than we might think. I only say that because, from the little I know of genetics, a lot of genetic ‘predisposition’ is basically that regulatory genes are activated and de-activated in multiple ways, many of which environmental. But the fact –might-- still be that having the extra regulatory genes that can become activated in the first place would be set up a genetic predisposition to obesity. Essentially harboring the same notion of being ‘genetically’ fat, but only slightly skewing the abstraction to reading ‘higher potential of being fat’.
 
Speaking to some basic principles in philosophy, are there any atheists here that are of the mind that our concept of ‘free will’ is fundamentally flawed? What room is there for philosophy, and religion specifically, to proselytize to us about our individual fallings in almost ANY regard as we find more a more how little human behavior is governed by our own ‘decisions’. And if that’s possible, what right do we have to even things like a simple concept of a ‘justice’ system.
 
Regards,
The Devil’s Advocate
 
From: [address removed] [mailto:[address removed]] On Behalf Of Catherine Caldwell-Harris
Sent: Wednesday, August 21,[masked]:20 PM
To: [address removed]
Subject: Re: [bostonatheists] "No real rational basis to opposing benefits of family planning..."
 
 
On Aug 21, 2013, at 2:47 PM, "kenneth a. thomas" <[address removed]>
 wrote:
 
Are they fat because of their genes, primarialy? Or from other influences?
 
Few people are fat primarily because of their genes.  Before agriculture, it was basically impossible to become fat.  Obesity was rare before the 20th century. 
 
I do feel bad for fat people, just like I feel bad for black people.   It is in our collective power to change the environment so that few children grow up to be fat, and so that African Americans can grow up with the intellectual curiosity and ability to win the Nobel prize in proportion to their representation in the population.   
 
For African Americas, I advocate a serious reparations programs to correct historical and ongoing injustice.  This will be most helpful in conjunction with an end to overseas wars and renewed commitment for this country to take up the battle that really matters:  the war on poverty.   To remedy the obesity epidemic, I advocate transitioning from capitalism to an economic system in which businesses are only granted charters to conduct business if they serve the public good; which can be decided by NIH style peer review programs.  On this model, junk food will disappear from convenience stores to be purchased only in specialized sweet shops (where ingredients contain no trans fats and other obesity causing agents).   Etc.  Dream with me!
 
 
Catherine
 




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