Arguing with an Islamic Apologist
#1
I had a long and draining argument with an Islamic apologist that I though I'll post here. The guy is supposedly a professor of something in Australia, educated in the West. He turned out to be a really unpleasant fellow, who simply kept hurling insults and personal attacks at me! I was already slightly familiar with his argument, having clashed with him briefly before. Emily, the friend on facebook on whose wall this went down, is in one of his classes and can't really say much to him.

Here is a brief summary: The guy, Ibn Sadiq, is a professor who uses postmodernist arguments to avoid scrutiny of his religious apologetics from a scientific point of view. If you aren't familiar with post-modernist arguments, it is very hard to argue with such slippery characters. They play a game not unlike Chopra's, where they will switch between factual propositions and metaphors whenever it is convenient, and disregard all disagreeable data, even if it cripples their core argument.

In this debate I am simply defending a very simple argument- that freedom of speech is "undermined by the majority of those who subscribe to Islam, among other religions".

The respected professor responded with cheap shots, ugly ad hominem attacks and all the standard apologetic tricks that defenders or religion have used for ages. He also kept misrepresenting what my argument was- essentially making the straw-man fallacy. And all the time he'd pretend that it was me that was not moving the conversation forward.

Anyway, here is the exchange.

[Image: islamicapologistdouche.png]

He threatened to block me if I didn't say what he expected me to, so I blocked him before he did.
"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.
#2
What a colossal dick. I hope whoever is studying under him won't have their brains damaged.
[+] 1 user Likes Lije's post
#3
My goodness. Treat yourself to something nice today Ajita, you've earned it.

It's sad that your friend has (a) "friended" this man and (b) put up with this shit on her wall.
#4
http://img232.imageshack.us/i/islamicapo...ouche.png/

LolThumbup nice file name for the screenshot !!


#5
(28-Oct-2010, 08:46 PM)Lije Wrote: What a colossal dick. I hope whoever is studying under him won't have their brains damaged.

And this is someone who is supposed to be a respected Muslim academic who grew up in the West. The virus of Islam is what causes such reaction in believers, even to rational and reasoned criticism.

(28-Oct-2010, 08:48 PM)unsorted Wrote: My goodness. Treat yourself to something nice today Ajita, you've earned it.

It's sad that your friend has (a) "friended" this man and (b) put up with this shit on her wall.

smile Thanks!. Emily has to be nice to this guy because he is her prof. She is extremely tolerant of his bigotry and nonsense, which can be hard for someone who is intelligent and progressive as her.

(29-Oct-2010, 12:03 AM)Sajit Wrote: http://img232.imageshack.us/i/islamicapo...ouche.png/

LolThumbup nice file name for the screenshot !!

I'm surprised I kept calmer than usual through that exchange. The fact that he completely lost it was actually funny in a cringe-worthy way, sort of how watching a drunk making a fool of himself at a party can be.
"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.
#6
Actually to get back to the original point of this exchange (which was mildly interesting in itself), "freedom of speech" is itself a dubious and nebulous concept. It is not something that can be scientifically proven to exist. The very sentence "freedom of speech is undermined by those who subscribe to religion" is a loaded one.

No one today has any idea what this "freedom of speech" is. Noone has seen it, felt it or experienced it in any way.

How can you convince someone that it even exists except through faith?

My point is that this so-called "freedom of speech" is something that is a byproduct of history and is a relic of our historic epoch. It exists in our minds today (due to its inculcation by faith) and it may be gone tomorrow. It is certainly not something that can be scientifically proven to exist today, yesterday or tomorrow. If one were to ask an Indian peasant from the middle ages what "freedom of speech" is, he/she would not know. In fact, if you were to do the same today, you still wouldn't find any peasant who knows about this "concept". So, to claim that anyone, let alone Muslims or religious people, "undermine freedom of speech" it is to speak the language of faith, aka nonsense.
#7
(01-Nov-2010, 12:54 AM)madhav Wrote: No one today has any idea what this "freedom of speech" is. Noone has seen it, felt it or experienced it in any way.

Freedom of speech is an idea that has seriously been thought and written about by political philosophers. Simply because a concept has not been felt or experienced by you does not mean that it is meaningless.

Quote:How can you convince someone that it even exists except through faith?

From my reply the the Islamic apologist:

Quote:"Freedom of speech is a political idea that exists in many forms. Such ideas consist of value-propositions that are contingent on cultural memes. The highest form that such value propositions can take is when they are the subjected to the forces of reason and evidence, in addition to an inter-subjective process of agreement, although this is in itself comprised of value propositions."

From another discussion on this forum:

Quote:"To quote John Stuart Mill, who is one of the most quoted political philosophers on the subject of freedom and liberty:

Quote:
"...there ought to exist the fullest liberty of professing and discussing, as a matter of ethical conviction, any doctrine, however immoral it may be considered.""

and

Quote:There was a real reason why I quoted John Stuart Mill. It is important to have a framework for understanding the philosophical underpinnings of the notion and limits of free-speech.

and

Quote:As we are both aware, constitutional law is very ambiguous. This is an unavoidable artifact of the system. But as I said, there are practical limits to this ambiguity, to be determined by objective facts and logic. This is what we are trying to do here. This is why John Stuart Mill is relevant. Without such a logical framework, the ambiguity is a tool of oppression.

Now tell me which part of that discussion appealed to faith, any more than any reason-based political philosophy does? Of course, at an objective level all value-premises are faith-based, but that is the nature of life. If we question all these value-premises as being lies, then there is no objective reason in ideas like love or democracy either. The fact is that for such value propositions we create meaning using reason.


Quote:My point is that this so-called "freedom of speech" is something that is a byproduct of history and is a relic of our historic epoch.

From my reply to the Islamic apologist:

Quote:"We could talk about the philosophy of freedom of speech; about how ancient cultures have had periods of great freedom of speech and expression, and periods of intellectual drought. We could talk about the utilitarian philosophers such as J.S. Mill whose work informs much of contemporary Western thought regarding the social and political rights of individuals in modern democracies. We could talk about the great intellectual debates between ancient philosophers on blasphemous subjects and draw precedent from those. We could talk about how the lack of freedom of expression in the Muslim world today is such a far cry from the free-expression that propelled a spirit of scientific inquiry in the Islamic world of the 11th century, when opulence and security caused a loosening of the grip that the repressive ideology had over people. We could even talk about specific legal clauses regarding free-speech, as they apply in different countries of the world."

Quote:It exists in our minds today (due to its inculcation by faith) and it may be gone tomorrow.

You really need to stop equating political ideas with faith. This is actually a way of removing the application of reason to real issues that affect people's lives.

Quote:It is certainly not something that can be scientifically proven to exist today, yesterday or tomorrow.

Science deals with fact-propositions, not value propositions. You seem to under the impression that if something is not an objective fact we cannot have a reason-based conversation about it, using a foundation of scientific facts.

Quote:So, to claim that anyone, let alone Muslims or religious people, "undermine freedom of speech" it is to speak the language of faith, not of free thought or science.

As has been demonstrated, you are wrong in thinking this. You have not actually addressed free-speech at all, and instead choose to argue that free-speech cannot exist. This is an appeal to ignorance. We CAN meaningfully talk about free-speech. In fact, it is key that freethinkers do this. Which brings me to another point. We are not about "free thought", but about "freethought". There's a big difference. See here.
"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.
#8
(01-Nov-2010, 01:29 AM)Ajita Kamal Wrote:
(01-Nov-2010, 12:54 AM)madhav Wrote: No one today has any idea what this "freedom of speech" is. Noone has seen it, felt it or experienced it in any way.

Freedom of speech is an idea that has seriously been thought and written about by political philosophers. Simply because a concept has not been felt or experienced by you does not mean that it is meaningless.
So is "God". "God" is also an idea that has been seriously thought and written about by philosophers. It has not been felt by me or you or anyone else for that matter.
Quote:
AK Wrote:How can you convince someone that it even exists except through faith?

From my reply the the Islamic apologist:

Quote:"Freedom of speech is a political idea that exists in many forms. Such ideas consist of value-propositions that are contingent on cultural memes. The highest form that such value propositions can take is when they are the subjected to the forces of reason and evidence, in addition to an inter-subjective process of agreement, although this is in itself comprised of value propositions."
Cultural meme? You mean freedom of speech is something that is based on historically evolved notions? That is exactly what I said. It exists today because it has been inculcated in us through our education. It is not something that can be scientifically proven to exist though. Our education could just as well inculcate in us the notion that Aryans are the superior race and one could "defend" this in similar terms like "cultural meme" that you have used.

AK Wrote:To quote John Stuart Mill, who is one of the most quoted political philosophers on the subject of freedom and liberty
[...SNIP...]
Now tell me which part of that discussion appealed to faith, any more than any reason-based political philosophy does? Of course, at an objective level all value-premises are faith-based, but that is the nature of life. If we question all these value-premises as being lies, then there is no objective reason in ideas like love or democracy either. The fact is that for such value propositions we create meaning using reason.
Nearly all of the expositions by their respective proponents about "democracy", "love", "freedom of speech" by definition is based on faith alone. In my view, the so called value-premises that are propagated by the the political philosophers of today is just a codeword for... you guessed it: faith. to go back to my earlier example, it is impossible for someone (not just a peasant, but even a scholar) from the middle ages to even begin to understand what these terms even mean. It is not the same case with science since scientific concepts are valid throughout all stages of mankind's history. An atom exists today in a similar way it did in the middle ages yada yada. I am someone who strongly believes that we should apply scientific modes of thinking towards all aspects of our lives. Do you agree with me about this or not? If so, can you explain to me why I should accept these axiomatic value propositions about so-called freedom, democracy etc defined by people like John Stuart Mill who, by the way, was an unashamed apologist for colonisation of our country among others. Thus, even for the so-called great Mill, all this "freedom" bullshit only applied to the so called "civilised peoples" only.

article Wrote:Mill had non-economic arguments for the British empire, as well. One was cultural. Backward, barbarous peoples could not just be left lying around to govern or misgovern themselves. Take the Irish, for example (one of his cases, not mine). No telling what might happen.

No, England had a civilizing mission to take these backward children in hand and whip them into shape. Sullivan notes that, for Mill, "England had a right to rule despotically because it brought the benefits of higher civilization."(5)

Another justification was that the empire "increased England's political power and prestige" ­ which was, in Mill's words, "a great advantage to mankind."(6)
Source

Here are the honorable Mr Mill's thoughts on colonisation.

AK Wrote:"We could talk about the philosophy of freedom of speech; about how ancient cultures have had periods of great freedom of speech and expression, and periods of intellectual drought.
One cannot approach this from such an ahistorical manner. Like I said before, freedom of speech is something propagated by political philosophers (I would call them apologists for the establishment, like JS Mill) from the 19th century onwards. It completely goes against a scientific approach to studying history if we were to apply our modes of though upon epochs where such concepts did not even exist.

AK Wrote:We could talk about the utilitarian philosophers such as J.S. Mill whose work informs much of contemporary Western thought regarding the social and political rights of individuals in modern democracies. We could talk about the great intellectual debates between ancient philosophers on blasphemous subjects and draw precedent from those. We could talk about how the lack of freedom of expression in the Muslim world today is such a far cry from the free-expression that propelled a spirit of scientific inquiry in the Islamic world of the 11th century, when opulence and security caused a loosening of the grip that the repressive ideology had over people. We could even talk about specific legal clauses regarding free-speech, as they apply in different countries of the world."
See above. We cannot apply nebulous and dubious concepts of today's epoch of history to previous epochs of the history of mankind. To do so is completely ahistorical and unscientific.
#9
(01-Nov-2010, 02:22 AM)madhav Wrote:
(01-Nov-2010, 01:29 AM)Ajita Kamal Wrote:
(01-Nov-2010, 12:54 AM)madhav Wrote: No one today has any idea what this "freedom of speech" is. Noone has seen it, felt it or experienced it in any way.

Freedom of speech is an idea that has seriously been thought and written about by political philosophers. Simply because a concept has not been felt or experienced by you does not mean that it is meaningless.
So is "God". "God" is also an idea that has been seriously thought and written about by philosophers. It has not been felt by me or you or anyone else for that matter.

So, you are saying that the idea of god is just as valid as the idea of freedom of speech? I say you are wrong. As I pointed out in the Free-will thread, 'god' is a fact-proposition, because it is a claim about objective reality. "love', on the other hand, like free-speech, is a value-proposition. We all subscribe to non-naturalistic value-propositions in order to create a moral and emotionally satisfying society. It is when we subscribe to non-naturalistic fact-propositions that we are being superstitious.

Quote:Cultural meme? You mean freedom of speech is something that is based on historically evolved notions?

No, I said its a cultural meme. If you want to define it in dialectical terms, that is your prerogative, but I choose not to. A cultural meme does not, by any means, have to be a historically evolved notion. It can be an idea that is the product of reason, administered on the culture in question.

Quote:That is exactly what I said.

Nope.

Quote:It exists today because it has been inculcated in us through our education.


No. It exists because we choose to give it meaning.

Quote:It is not something that can be scientifically proven to exist though
.

Of course it can. Freedom of speech can easily be quantified based on given parameters.

Quote:Our education could just as well inculcate in us the notion that Aryans are the superior race and one could "defend" this in similar terms like "cultural meme" that you have used.

No. If your education did that to you, then I would argue that your education is wrong. Your education could also tell you that monkeys descended from helicopters and its OK for men to rape women. Both those propositions would also be wrong. The former is factually wrong, and the latter is morally wrong. The former is a fact-proposition that is wrong.The latter is a value-proposition that is wrong. As discussed in the rape thread, there are value-premises that go into our understanding of why rape is wrong. Do you also refuse to acknowledge that rape is wrong simply because there are value-premises involved? Do you dismiss those value-premises as "faith-based", or do you use reason and compassion to shape, understand and act on those premises in order to make moral choices?

Quote:Nearly all of the expositions by their respective proponents about "democracy", "love", "freedom of speech" by definition is based on faith alone.

I have already said that if that is your interpretation of "faith" then you are right. By that same definition, so is your idea of equality and the elimination of caste, along with many other social issues.

Here you are, propounding in all earnest: http://nirmukta.net/Thread-Fruits-of-casting-caste-away
Equality is a faith-based idea, by your definition of what faith-based means. By your definition, we cannot be arguing about caste equality. Dalits deserve to clean the shit of the "upper" castes, the way it has always been, because we cannot address this scientifically.

Think before you answer this one. Whatever you would do (rationally) to make equality as an idea open to reason also applies to ideas such as free-speech.

http://nirmukta.net/Thread-What-are-your-politics
What? You actually started this faith-based discussion? Science cannot say anything about political issues unless the value premises are taken into consideration. Often these premises are not discussed and are surreptitiously hidden in the arguments made. This is the opposite of what science and reason is about. One cannot pursue a scientific approach to political questions, unless one takes into account and seriously ponders on the value premises involved.

For example, on this thread you say, rightly and morally IMO, that forced sex is a crime. This is a value-proposition. So is free-speech, and in this context the suppression of free-speech is a crime.

The point you are missing here is that the accusation of things being faith-based is a straw man when dealing with inter-subjective ideas such as freedom of speech. At some level everything is faith-based. Even in science you rely on faith in reason and logic, and the fact that the world behaves in predictable ways. This is the naturalistic point of view. The fact is that ideas that are based on value-propositions are always based on interpretation, which I suspect is what really bothers you. You are uncomfortable that such ideas do not have quantitative answers, but you must realize that there are many ideas that do not have quantitative answers, and you subscribe to them all the time.

Quote:In my view, the so called value-premises that are propagated by the the political philosophers of today is just a codeword for... you guessed it : faith.

Yeah, I guessed what your view is. What I'm not just guessing is that you are wrong. Unless you define "faith" as anything that has value-propositions involved, in which case, everything you do is faith-based. You are your own worst enemy.

Quote:to go back to my earlier example, it is impossible for someone (not just a peasant, but even a scholar) from the middle ages to even begin to understand what these terms even mean.

And it is impossible for a pig to understand general relativity. Your argument is an appeal to ignorance.

Quote:It is not the same case with science since scientific concepts are valid throughout all stages of mankind's history.

Your understanding of science seems superficial. Factual propositions make objective claims, but there is nothing constant about ideas in science. The most useful thing about science is that it is malleable to the evidence. There are many scientific concepts that have been invalidated by scientific progress.

I will say this once. You are seeing things in black and white. Science is different from all other human endeavor because of a particular tradition of logic and reason that is subject to evidence. Science applies to fact-propositions. But life is also full of value propositions. The minute we apply science to real life we are using value-propositions.

Quote:An atom exists today in a similar way it did in the middle ages yada yada.

An atom is a fact-proposition. Equality is a value-proposition.

Both can be discussed with or without reason and evidence.

The fact that something "exists today in a similar way it did in the middle ages" is not a measure of the fact that "scientific concepts are valid throughout all stages of mankind's history". Hatred of one's enemies is a value-proposition, and it exists today in a similar way it did in the Middle Ages, but that does not make scientific concepts "valid throughout all stages of mankind's history". Lady Gaga is a fact-proposition. She is not a value-proposition and she does scientifically and objectively exist, but she surely does not exist "in a similar way (she) did in the middle ages".

In fact, science itself has changed a lot over the past few centuries, gaining from the ideas of scientific philosophers. The value premises behind scientific ideas can be tested and refined over time, and that is exactly what happens. Value-propositions, to a science-minded person, become open to investigation. This tendency towards rational investigation is one of the things separates freethinkers from the superstitious.

Quote:I am someone who strongly believes that we should apply scientific modes of thinking towards all aspects of our lives.

So does almost everyone on this forum.

Quote:If so, can you explain to me why I should accept these axiomatic value propositions about so-called freedom, democracy
etc


No. Because you should not. Nobody is asking to you to accept value-propositions as axioms. What I am asking you to do is to engage them instead of avoiding them because they are too complicated. Question them, but do not dismiss them. You are dismissing them simply because you cannot see them as being grounded in reason. That is YOUR failure.

More importantly, you seem to not understand what value-propositions entail. Value propositions are open to reason. They are, by definition, inter-subjective. Factual-propositions make objective claims about the universe. Human understanding and action involve both fact-propositions and value-propositions. As long as the facts are accurate, the value-propositions are entirely subjective. We can study the facts using science. The value-propositions will inform and be informed by the science, leading to better understanding and action on the issue.

Quote:Thus, even for the so-called great Mill, all this "freedom" bullshit only applied to the so called "civilised peoples" only.

By the standards of our day, everyone from Newton to Darwin were racist. Evolution by natural selection was used by everyone form racist colonialists (who argued that Asians and Africans are inferior and therefore need to be taken care of) and slave holders. Even many scientists used evolution to argue that certain people were inferior. By your logic, Darwinism was Nazi philosophy, because social darwinism as propagated by the Nazi was based on applying evolutionary biology to regressive value-propositions. Modern democracy was invented by slave-owners, who didn't apply the principles of democracy to the people they oppressed, so I guess we must abhor democracy itself for moral reasons.

The argument that you use, if applied across the board, would discredit all progressive ideas that came out of the enlightenment, including democracy itself. Yours is the sort of arrogant equivocation that you see from religious apologists, equivocation of the sort that you usually do not see from freethinkers.

Your form of reason could just as easily be dismissed as "faith". But I won't do so, because I have more respect for the process of dialogue. Instead, I will point out that you are choosing to poison the well by bringing up racism and hate , in order to discredit the idea that reason itself can be applied to ideas such as free-speech. The type of fallacy you are making here is called the fallacy of association. What's funny is that you completely fail to address free-speech itself!

Quote:Like I said before, freedom of speech is something propagated by political philosophers (I would call them apologists for the establishment, like JS Mill) from the 19th century onwards. It completely goes against a scientific approach to studying history if we were to apply our modes of though upon epochs where such concepts did not even exist.

You can criticize Mill all you want out of context, but you have nothing to say about his ideas about free-speech. Do address what Mill said about free-speech. Do not simply spew all the negative things you can find about him. What do you have to say about his actual views on free speech? If you have something to say about the scientific approach to history that has to do with the subject under discussion, THEN I AM WAITING TO HEAR IT.

The truth is all such issues are disconcerting if one likes things to be simple and black and white. Unfortunately, the world is not so easy to decipher. As Steven Novella likes to say on the SGU podcast, science is messy.

Quote:We cannot apply nebulous and dubious concepts of today's epoch of history to previous epochs of the history of mankind. To do so is completely ahistorical and unscientific.

This is a postmodernist muddling of truth. A nebulous concept only remains nebulous so long as you fail to address it using reason, unless you can demonstrate otherwise. You are intent on failing to address free-speech using reason, and are thus choosing to remain ignorant, and portray the idea of free-speech as nebulous. As I said before, that is YOUR failure.

Change is a reality. Of course, anyone who talks about free-speech must take this into account. The thing is that you refuse to talk about the idea, or even along acknowledge that such a discussion is possible, despite the fact that you are here refuting the idea using reason. The irony escapes you, I'm sure.

In truth, those who refuse to partake in such discussions using reason are simply pushing their own agenda and protecting it from scrutiny. YOU have your own understanding of freedom of speech. Everyone does. You are simply not discussing it. Nor are you subjecting its factual aspects/consequences/implicaitons to science and its value-propositions to reason. Thus you are surreptitiously pushing your hidden agenda onto culture at large, without scrutiny. That is, by definition, a faith-based approach to such issues.
"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.
#10
@Madhav: All scientific ideas that deal with fact-propositions are associated with value-propositions in application. It is this understanding that you lack. This leads you to recognize value-propositions that you agree with, such as equality, and to not recognize those value propositions that you do not agree with, such as free-speech.
"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.
#11
(01-Nov-2010, 03:01 PM)Ajita Kamal Wrote: No, I said its a cultural meme. If you want to define it in dialectical terms, that is your prerogative, but I choose not to. A cultural meme does not, by any means, have to be a historically evolved notion. It can be an idea that is the product of reason, administered on the culture in question.
However, all such cultures are the products of historical evolution. The culture of the enlightenment in the West is a product of the historical circumstances surrounding it. The notion of "free speech" is a development from that culture.

AK Wrote:
Quote:It exists today because it has been inculcated in us through our education.


No. It exists because we choose to give it meaning.
In other words, you are saying certain things can have their existence just because we choose to give it meaning? This is a fundamental flaw of putting consciousness as having a primacy over reality. I have to disagree with you if you believe in consciousness-primacy. As a materialist, I believe that it is reality that has primacy over our consciousness and material reality gives rise to our consciousness. This basically can lead down to the nurture-vs-nature debate. This is perhaps a topic for another thread, but I just want to make it clear that my position is mostly a nurture-based one.

AK Wrote:
Quote:Our education could just as well inculcate in us the notion that Aryans are the superior race and one could "defend" this in similar terms like "cultural meme" that you have used.

No. If your education did that to you, then I would argue that your education is wrong. Your education could also tell you that monkeys descended from helicopters and its OK for men to rape women. Both those propositions would also be wrong. The former is factually wrong, and the latter is morally wrong. The former is a fact-proposition that is wrong.The latter is a value-proposition that is wrong. As discussed in the rape thread, there are value-premises that go into our understanding of why rape is wrong. Do you also refuse to acknowledge that rape is wrong simply because there are value-premises involved? Do you dismiss those value-premises as "faith-based", or do you use reason and compassion to shape, understand and act on those premises in order to make moral choices?
Actually, when it comes to morals, I am again a bit iffy as I do not go by any "morals" as defined by society. The notion of morality is itself a totally socially constructed notion and cannot be held to have any "absolute" existence apart from socially agreed upon norms. Your confusion between fact vs value propositions arises from the fact that most of your value propositions are mainly propositions that are agreed upon socially as such can be said to be based on the subjective consciousness of a society as a whole. On the other hand, scientific facts have an objective existence and stands apart from the socially acceptable or agreeable propositions. So both fact and value propositions are propositions. However, facts have objective existence and values have only subjective existence and come about due to social agreement and acceptance.
AK Wrote:Think before you answer this one. Whatever you would do (rationally) to make equality as an idea open to reason also applies to ideas such as free-speech.

http://nirmukta.net/Thread-What-are-your-politics
What? You actually started this faith-based discussion? Science cannot say anything about political issues unless the value premises are taken into consideration. Often these premises are not discussed and are surreptitiously hidden in the arguments made. This is the opposite of what science and reason is about. One cannot pursue a scientific approach to political questions, unless one takes into account and seriously ponders on the value premises involved.
For example, on this thread you say, rightly and morally IMO, that forced sex is a crime. This is a value-proposition. So is free-speech, and in this context the suppression of free-speech is a crime.

The point you are missing here is that the accusation of things being faith-based is a straw man when dealing with inter-subjective ideas such as freedom of speech. At some level everything is faith-based. Even in science you rely on faith in reason and logic, and the fact that the world behaves in predictable ways. This is the naturalistic point of view. The fact is that ideas that are based on value-propositions are always based on interpretation, which I suspect is what really bothers you. You are uncomfortable that such ideas do not have quantitative answers, but you must realize that there are many ideas that do not have quantitative answers, and you subscribe to them all the time.
See above. Also, BTW, you are committing the fallacy of tu qoque by appealing to my posts in another thread.

AK Wrote:Yeah, I guessed what your view is. What I'm not just guessing is that you are wrong. Unless you define "faith" as anything that has value-propositions involved, in which case, everything you do is faith-based. You are your own worst enemy.

Quote:to go back to my earlier example, it is impossible for someone (not just a peasant, but even a scholar) from the middle ages to even begin to understand what these terms even mean.

And it is impossible for a pig to understand general relativity. Your argument is an appeal to ignorance.
Not so. As you have said yourself, value propositions are different from fact propositions. What you are missing is that value propositions do not have any kind of "absolute" or independent existence of their own. They come about as socially constructed propositions that are accepted by a society as a whole.

AK Wrote:No. Because you should not. Nobody is asking to you to accept value-propositions as axioms. What I am asking you to do is to engage them instead of avoiding them because they are too complicated. Question them, but do not dismiss them. You are dismissing them simply because you cannot see them as being grounded in reason. That is YOUR failure.
See above again. Value propositions are socially constructed propositions that are the product of the historical evolution of a society. They do not have independent existence of their own. In that case, why should anyone accept the currently held set of value propositions as something that has always been in existence? I am not accusing you of directly committing this fallacy, but your posts seem to indicate a general trend towards such a tendency.

I will address the rest of your points in another post as this seems to be getting longer already and your other points seem to require a lengthy response from me.Wink
#12
Ajita Kamal Wrote:By the standards of our day, everyone from Newton to Darwin were racist.
Of course they were racist. However we can easily separate the racist things they said from the scientific discoveries they made. As a corollary of their having been racist, we need to view any of their political positions with the utmost suspicion as politics is not science and is based on the subjective beliefs held by those individuals.

Quote:Evolution by natural selection was used by everyone form racist colonialists (who argued that Asians and Africans are inferior and therefore need to be taken care of) and slave holders.
What is your evidence for natural selection specifically being used for these things?

Quote:Even many scientists used evolution to argue that certain people were inferior. By your logic, Darwinism was Nazi philosophy, because social darwinism as propagated by the Nazi was based on applying evolutionary biology to regressive value-propositions.
Here you are taking the development of Nazism in an casual idealistic offhand manner. The rise of Nazism has to be seen in its historical context. Nazis appealed to all kinds of stupid notions ranging from Catholicism, Aryan paganism to Social Darwinism. If we were to conclude from such superficialities that Nazism is a product of Darwinism or even Catholicism, we would be committing a tremendous idealistic blunder of sacrificing the material circumstances that gave rise to Nazism. Most serious historians recognize the fact that Nazism came into being basically as a form of the most desperate reaction to the communist movement of the German working class by the powerful wealth-holding classes. Nazis were mainly funded by big businesses and their main political agenda was anti-communism.

Quote: Modern democracy was invented by slave-owners, who didn't apply the principles of democracy to the people they oppressed, so I guess we must abhor democracy itself for moral reasons.
Firstly, modern democracy was not "invented" by slave-owners. Democracy, as we know it today including universal suffrage, women's rights, civil rights and so on, came about as a result of a long historical struggle by the poor and working classes. See 'A People's History of the United States' by Howard Zinn for more details. It is available online here. My second point is a corollary of my first one. If the modern concepts and experiences of democracy are vastly different from those envisioned by the so-called "founders", why should we not question their spurious visions of "democracy" or "freedom"?

Quote:The argument that you use, if applied across the board, would discredit all progressive ideas that came out of the enlightenment, including democracy itself. Yours is the sort of arrogant equivocation that you see from religious apologists, equivocation of the sort that you usually do not see from freethinkers.
On the contrary, if my questioning of your premises leads you to compare me to a religious apologist, I have to question your credentials as a freethinker. I was under the impression that the purpose of freethought was to unceasingly question everything. What you seem to be proposing proposing are some arbitrary propositions that all supposed freethinkers should believe in.

Quote:What's funny is that you completely fail to address free-speech itself!
[..SNIP]
What do you have to say about his actual views on free speech? If you have something to say about the scientific approach to history that has to do with the subject under discussion, THEN I AM WAITING TO HEAR IT.
No need to get angry, you are right. I have been been perhaps not clear enough on this. So let me make it clear: I do not believe that freedom of speech exists today. I am not saying it should not exist, but it does not exist. As my example of JS Mill's proves, there was such a thing as colonialism during his day which automatically negates anyone who comes about claiming that free speech existed during JS Mill's time. If anyone makes such a ridiculous claim, they should be immediately pointed to the existence of such colonies as India, where there was no freedom of speech. Also, we cannot say that there was no freedom of speech in India because of Hinduism or Islam or because it had too many space aliens living in it etc etc. India did not have freedom of speech because of colonialism period. This leads back to my point that freedom of speech, along with other socially constructed ideas, does not exist as an absolute category on its own. It owes its existence to historical circumstances. Similarly, in today's world, freedom of speech does not exist in many countries where Muslims are the majority population. We cannot ascribe the reason for this to be due to Islam or due to some green-assed monkeys. Instead we should look to the historical circumstances surrounding these countries and these peoples (one can point to neo-colonialism as a major factor).

AK Wrote:
Quote:We cannot apply nebulous and dubious concepts of today's epoch of history to previous epochs of the history of mankind. To do so is completely ahistorical and unscientific.

This is a postmodernist muddling of truth. A nebulous concept only remains nebulous so long as you fail to address it using reason, unless you can demonstrate otherwise. You are intent on failing to address free-speech using reason, and are thus choosing to remain ignorant, and portray the idea of free-speech as nebulous. As I said before, that is YOUR failure.
On the contrary, I would invite you to point out where I have used any post-modern concepts in my posts. My stance that historically evolved notions of contemporary societies cannot be applied retroactively to societies that were formed to entirely different circumstances is something that most historians would agree with. It has nothing to do with post-modernism. In fact you made a similar valid point about every 19th century major scientist being a racist, including Darwin and Newton.

(01-Nov-2010, 03:22 PM)Ajita Kamal Wrote: @Madhav: All scientific ideas that deal with fact-propositions are associated with value-propositions in application. It is this understanding that you lack. This leads you to recognize value-propositions that you agree with, such as equality, and to not recognize those value propositions that you do not agree with, such as free-speech.
I do not accept that value propositions exist independently of the societies that created them as opposed to fact propositions which exist objectively independent of any society's historical circumstances.


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