JS-Kit/Echo comments for article at http://smallestminority.blogspot.com/2005/03/rights-morality-pragmatism-i.html (10 comments)

  Tentative mapping of comments to original article, corrections solicited.

jsid-1112032911-285740  Bilgeman at Mon, 28 Mar 2005 18:01:51 +0000

Small Minor:

"Yet Dr. Cline's position is that there is a single "objective standard of morality" and that objective standard is based on the rights of man which are corollaries of Rand's "one fundamental right: a man's right to his own life."

Sounds to me like Dr. Cline believes in God and in the human soul. Although he might not necessarily call it such.

What is "objectivity"?

Is it construct of the human mind? Or is there really such a thing? Einstein postulated a "hypothetical objective observer".

And now we speak of a moral objectivity...a "good" that is always and forever "good", an "evil" that is always and forever "evil"

Forever in context...yep, that'd be a good definition of "God" for me.

"We're stuck in that no-mans-land between mathematicians and physicists, I think."

And also in the artificial construct between science and faith, to my mind.

"Dr. Cline believes, and makes a good case, that those rights can be determined just the same way the laws of mathematics are: through discovery by logical thought."

Perhaps. You know your physics, so say "Hi" to Dr. Heisenberg for me, 'kay?

We can know it's weight, or it's speed, but we cannot know both.

Or to put it another way:

"I am what I am.".

(Don't ya think that set ol' Moses' mind at ease?).

We can perhaps come --->

jsid-1112047596-285809  Bilgeman at Mon, 28 Mar 2005 22:06:36 +0000

(Wow, talk about strange, to have Haloscan truncate my comment there):

jsid-1112050999-285818  Timbeaux at Mon, 28 Mar 2005 23:03:19 +0000

There is an element in this analysis that I think you are both overlooking. I'm going to do a little outlining so it's written up right (so I can be "unerringly precise") and make it an email for you. Till then, thanks for the great reads.

jsid-1112053176-285822  Bilgeman at Mon, 28 Mar 2005 23:39:36 +0000

Dang...again...this is weird.

Okay, so we can come this close,(imagine the "left turn arrow").

That may be as close as we can ever come.

I'd also observe that Dr. Cline's faith in mathematics for proving an objective morality may be Quixotic.

As universal and precise a language as mathematics is, there are some phenomena in which it falls down on it's ass...the various geometric paradoxes come to mind.


jsid-1112053947-285824  Kevin Baker at Mon, 28 Mar 2005 23:52:27 +0000

I'm glad somebody commented. I was beginning to think I'd sprained a frontal lobe for nothing!

jsid-1112095253-68410  Trackback at Tue, 29 Mar 2005 11:20:53 +0000

Trackback message
Title: More rights
Excerpt: I am swamped at work and home, again. Such is the cadence of life.

Kevin posted another mind spraining essay. No, I haven\'t finished it yet, but I will. And if the past is any indication, I\'ll have my own two cents worth to blather about. ...
Blog name: Solarvoid

jsid-1112114055-285939  Rusticus at Tue, 29 Mar 2005 16:34:15 +0000

I think most of us sprained the frontal lobe reading it! ;)

There's a lot to chew on (and through)!

jsid-1112128204-285997  Bilgeman at Tue, 29 Mar 2005 20:30:04 +0000

Had an interesting experience today:

As I sat down to our yummy lunchtime grub, my ham sandwich started speaking.

At first it carried on about salvation and baptism in Christ and such.

Since I was hungry, I took a few bites, and this set it off in a high dudgeon about how I was violating it's natural right to life, or some such nonsense. I didn't catch the last bit, because by then I was chewing it up pretty thoroughly.

My point speaks to your use of the New Guinea cannibals and the European missionaries as examples vis-a-vis "Rights" and "Morality".

For whatever reasons, it appears that not every culture or everybody has the "antenna" to "tune" into the common wavelength that most people,(at least in the West), are "listening to".

And if that be the case, discussing an objective morality that WE all can verify seems about as promising a prospect as having an intelligent conversation with a ham sandwich.


jsid-1112308014-286544  Effeminem at Thu, 31 Mar 2005 22:26:54 +0000

I believe we should strive to bring the reality into line with the ideal, as long as it's done realistically. I suppose it's not really a synthesis, since I believe in an absolute ideal.

jsid-1113343286-288667  Dr. Danny O. Cline, Jr. at Tue, 12 Apr 2005 22:01:26 +0000


Your question about my belief in God is an issue many reasonable people might raise. As such, though it does not really apply to my argument, I'll answer it.

No, I do not believe in God, though I am not a committed athiest. I am an agnostic and I have found the arguments for and against the existence of God to be equally compelling (or rather, equally uncompelling). In most regards, I find the question uninteresting, as I fail to see what the existence or nonexistence of a thinking creator of the universe should necessarily have to do with me.

However, in at least one aspect, this does play into my argument about whether we can say that there is a true standard of morality. If God exists in the sense that many expect him to, as an omniscient, omnipotent being who created everything and for whom all objects, physical laws, and ideas are really just his playthings, then his existence raises a dire problem for the existence of a true standard of morality. Just as a law is no law if it does not apply equally to peasant and king, a moral rule is no moral rule if it is simply to be ignored, reversed, or obliterated by a capricous god wishing to get himself out of trouble. If I can say that from this hand on, two pair beats three of a kind (because I have 8s and jacks while my opponent has three 4s), the rules of the game become irrelevant.

As regards your other discussions, you have an incorrect view of Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle. It reminds me more than anything of Tony Shaloub's lawyer character, Freddy Riedenschneider, in the Coen brothers' "The Man Who Wasn't There" who claims that we cannot know if Doris Crane committed the crime because "Werner says so."

Werner actually doesn't say any such thing. He only says that the certainty with which we know a particle's momentum (not its mass as you suggest) and its positionare related in that the more certainly we know the one, the less sure we are about the other. This has no application to the relam of doubt in ideas. This is a common mistake, using scientific rules as if they apply to things which they do not discuss.

Einstein's Theory of Relativity doesn't say anything about cultural relativism or moral relativism, only that length, time, mass, and other measurable quantities depend of our frame of reference. Likewise Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle doesn't say anything about doubt about moral questions as you suggest in:

""Dr. Cline believes, and makes a good case, that those rights can be determined just the same way the laws of mathematics are: through discovery by logical thought."

Perhaps. You know your physics, so say "Hi" to Dr. Heisenberg for me, 'kay?"

It only tells us about how much we can know in combination about momentum and position of material objects. It is further only very relevant at the particle level, since in larger scales we can know a great deal in combination about a macroscopic object's momentum and position at once. How we do so is through simple Newtonian mechanics which still works very well for large (in relation to particles) objects at slow (in relation to c) speeds.

In any event, thanks for your reply.

Dr. Danny O. Cline, Jr.

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