Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Objective morals and it's opposite, religion.

Bizarrely, many atheists are bothered by the idea of objective or absolute morality.  They seem to feel that it means judgmental, intolerant, sexually repressive morality as represented by the Abrahamic religions.  Similarly the representatives of said religions seem to believe that their dogmas are objective morality and indeed the only possible source of objective morality.  This is the opposite of the truth, objective morality does not need to be based on, and indeed cannot be based on, the Abrahamic religions. 

To see why let's define what me mean by "morality".  Morality is the study of which choices _ought_ to be made, and which _ought_ not to be.  Moral goodness/badness comes from making right/wrong decisions.  Therefore morality must be individual because only individuals make choices.  Where the statement is made that "the community/nation/government" made a decision we find that in fact individuals made decisions.  Even in cases where the decision was made by voting individuals decided how to vote, and those who voted against a decision cannot be held responsible for it.  Therefore the concept of "collective" guilt is a nonsense.  The only guilt or virtue is individual.  Yet the Abrahamic make guilt not only collective, but species wide.  We are asked to believe that an "objective" moral standard holds us responsible for actions that took place before our birth.  It would be like holding me responsible for the assassination of JFK, over 5 years before I was born.  This is the doctrine of "original sin", that punishment is valid for acts which the person could neither cause nor prevent. In the words of Ayn Rand "They call [this] a morality of mercy and a doctrine of love for man.".

But to judge the Abrahamic religions only for how they think about sin is to miss half their depravity.  How they think about forgiveness is, if anything worse.  Having designated the mere fact of our existence as a crime worthy of eternal pain* they offer a way to be forgiven.  Note that the possibility that one might be _worthy_ of forgiveness is denied us.  Our moral status cannot be changed by our own acts, but only by the decision of God to forgive us.  So not only is guilt the result of someone else's actions, so is forgiveness.  A morality based on nothing you do is not objective, it's not morality and it's not worth considering.

So what we're advised to do is beg for a forgiveness that we don't deserve.  Note what is being suggested, to try to gain something without deserving it.  This is by definition not moral.  The definition of something not deserved is something it is not moral to choose to gain, at least not until some action can be taken to deserve it.  The method of gaining this undeserved thing is begging and obedience.  Yet begging cannot change whether something is deserved.  Begging is an attempt to convince someone of the rightness of an action, not through demonstrating it is right for them, or morally right, but beneficial for someone who deserve the benefit but is pitiable.  The justification for us being forgiven is that someone else was punished for our sins.  But since moral status is individual, the punishment must logically be individual as well.  Since rightful punishment must, by definition a response to a particular moral status, punishing someone for someone else's crime is incoherent.  The moral status of one cannot depend on the actions of another.

So if objective morality cannot come from the Abrahamic religions, can it exist at all?  Well yes, and it's simply proved.  Christopher Hitchens said: "I would submit that the doctrine of vicarious redemption by human sacrifice is utterly immoral. I might if I wished … say, “look, you’re in debt, I’ve just made a lot of money out of a God-bashing book, I’ll pay your debts for you” … I could say, if I really loved someone who’d been sentenced to prison, “if I could find a way of serving your sentence, I’d do it” … I could do what Sydney Carton does in A Tale of Two Cities … “I’ll take your place on the scaffold,” but I can’t take away your responsibilities, I can’t forgive what you did, I can’t say you didn’t do it, I can’t make you washed clean. The name for that in primitive Middle Eastern society was scapegoating. You pile the sins of the tribe on a goat and you drive that goat into the desert to die of thirst and hunger; and you think you’ve taken away the sins of the tribe: a positively immoral doctrine that abolishes the concept of personal responsibility upon which all ethics and all morality must depend.”.  This is clearly an objective moral truth, which means that objective moral values are possible.  They're just not possible with the false claims of the mainstream religions.  

So is an objective morality compatible with a God?  I can't see why not, if there is a non-contradictory definition of God.  However it doesn't require it.  By definition objective morality depends on the evidence available.  If there absolute morality depended on a God, and God wasn't objectively proven, then it wouldn't be objective morality.  It would merely be the morality that people who think God existed think is objectively true.  But there is no reason to believe that an objective morality does depend on God.  

* By some interpretations it's only eternal oblivion and denial of eternal life.  Personally I think eternal life would be a curse but oh well...

Friday, May 02, 2014

Counterforce vs. Uber, let's call someone a sociopath because we don't like them.

These counterforce people are disgusting.  It starts with an accusation that the Theta Xi fraternity is a" pool of misogynists, rapists, and business contacts,", as though those three were equivalent.  Although I'm pretty sure I know which group they're really upset by.  They don't link to any evidence of a Theta Xi member raping anyone, let alone that Theta Xi members are more likely to rape someone.

"His first venture was a knock-off Napster, designed to divert money from the music industry and into his own pockets."
Because the music industry is full of people who deserve the money they get.

"At an early age, Kalanick became convinced that competition was the only force that could motivate him to do anything, "

"But to this foolish young capitalist, his defeat was only fuel to his blossoming free-market ideology."
Yes he's so foolish not to have accepted defeat and given up on being an entrepreneur.  It's not like he sold a company for 15 million dollars.  Oh wait he did.  But it's not like he started another company that's rapidly growing and profitable, oh wait, he did.  Yeah they're right, that Kalanick guy is a moron.

"In his twisted imagination, he ascribed this success solely to himself and his ability to compete, ignoring the fact that he was harvesting the natural urge of people to share with each other and converting that human desire into revenue."
Did he say anything at all to even suggest that he believed this?  Or is this just counterforce being arrogant twats who don't feel they have to do any research and can just ascribe opinions to people?

"For six years he extracted capital from all the people trusting enough to use his services."
So did any of those "trusting" people regret trusting him?  Because if they didn't then why use the word "trusting"?  Logically anyone who uses a service trusts the service provided to some extent.  Counterforce doesn't feel the need to show that the trust was unearned or betrayed, because to them, merely making money is evil.

"He seems to believe that his inner capitalist strength is the prime generator of all his wealth, and in this regard he is no different than any of the other Uber Men of the tech world."
His "inner capitalist" is the prime generator of all his wealth.  How did all that wealth get generated?  By customers using the services that were available SOLELY because he made the decision to provide them. And that's why counterforce hates him, because they can't even begin to equal his achievement and they know it.

"This Uber Man trampled on gods, morals, everything that kept him from becoming what he was: a dancing star, born of chaos."
And that has what to do with Kalanick?  What morals has he trampled on, let alone what gods?

"In the three short years since then, Uber has made significant headway towards creating more and more service jobs catering to the ruling classes. "
And that's bad, because it's far more important to not cater to the ruling classes than to create jobs so people can eat.  Of course it's news to the average Uber user that they're part of the "ruling class", probably because counterforce made that bit up.

"Kalnick views the contractors who generate his sacred capital as expendable pawns. If a driver suddenly drops from a 4.8 driving score to a 4.7, they are terminated without any explanation. "
Actually I think a drop in a performance measurement is an explanation.

"In this competitive atmosphere, drivers are constantly fiddling with their smart phones and stressing about their next fare. During one such moment, a money-obsessed driver ploughed into a mother and her children on the streets of San Francisco. "
Actually there appears to be no evidence that he was checking his smartphone at the time, and if he was it's incredibly irresponsible since he was making a turn.  Far from encouraging this behaviour Uber AUTOMATICALLY suspend people who are involved in a "serious police matter".  So how is Kalanick responsible for someone else's negligence?

"Since then, Uber has assumed liability for its drivers at all times, but we want to assure Kalanick that the ghost of Sofia will never leave him. Kalanick doesn’t seem to notice her, however."
Well that's probably because there's no evidence it's his fault.  If Uber drivers were shown to be more dangerous than regular drivers or taxi drivers he might have reason to feel guilty.  But to blame him because one of the hundreds of drivers he employs had a fatal accident is absurd.  By that standard every CEO of every large transport corporation, no matter how careful and conscious of safety, would eventually have to collapse in tears of guilt.

" Jen is the Seattle Community Manager for Uber and seems to be very dedicated to the CEO and the company."
Well yes, it would be strange if the PR manager didn't seem devoted.

"Over 36,000 people in Seattle signed their names on pieces of paper provided by Jen and her minions. 630,000 people live in the city, and only a minority of them use Uber. "
So they got 5.7% of the cities population to sign a petition.  That suggests that either Seattle is a VERY drunk town or they didn't get them all in bars.  In any case surely the fact that 5.7% of the population signed a petition says something about the popularity of Uber.  Like maybe people think it's a bloody good idea?

"By marketing itself as way to get shitfaced drunk and then get home safely, Uber is hoping to clean the pockets of everyone who wants to feel free on a night like this one. "
Oh no, they're marketing themselves as a way to do something that they actually are a way to do.  Horrors!

"On top of the forty dollars they might spend on booze and food, the average Saturday night drunk can now spend another thirty on an Uber cab."
Which is so much worse than spending the money for a regular cab that it takes an hour to find.

"Without the desire to escape produced by this sick capitalist society, Uber would be lacking in drunks to ferry home every night."
Ok, let's assume for a moment that the only, or even the main, reason someone would drink too much to safely drive is our sick capitalist society.  Did he create said society?  No.  Would it still exist even if he didn't offer a convenient way to get home without driving drunk?  Yes.  So how is it his fault?

"But of course none of the success of Uber has anything to do with the passengers, or with their misery,"
I'm pretty sure Kalanick is aware that his success has to do with customers.  People who launch more than one successful business venture tend to be aware of the importance of customers to their success.

"or with Jen’s fierce and terrifying identification with her CEO. "
Yes it's so terrifying that Jen says good things about the guy who pays her to say good things about his business.  It's like she's a monster.

"Burgess, Bagshaw, and Rasmussen were the only council members to oppose the cap. Nevertheless, despite their allegiances and power plays, it was the capitalists that decided the matter for the City of Seattle, not the other way around."
Citation needed.  The "City of Seattle" or rather 9 people who think they can use force in it's name, decided the issue.  The fact that Counterforce doesn't distinguish between "the City of Seattle" and the government of Seattle is a hint that they're not anarchists.  But let's examine the facts.  Uber came with a petition with tens of thousands of signatures.  Six out of 9 councilors decided to not limit their activity.  How is that the capitalists deciding the matter?   It's pretty much democracy in action.  Of course Counterforce is so utterly ignorant or dishonest that they didn't mention the influence of the traditional cab companies, who I'm sure tried to get the cap passed.  Of course these "anarchists" try to solve problems by using government force, so you can't expect consistency.

" Travis Kalanick wants to undermine every City Hall he encounters and render its laws meaningless. "
And that's bad how?  Let's look at precisely what laws he wants to "undermine".  They are laws specifically set up to privilege capital at the expense of labour.  Now I think Marx is an idiot and his categories largely meaningless.  Nevertheless in this we see a literal Marxist class struggle between the cab companies and those who wish to sell taxi-driving services.  Between labour and capital.  Capital wishes to restrict competition so that they can keep profits artificially high.  Labour just wants to work for what their services are worth.  Counterforce is on the side of capital.  Worse they're on the side of capitalized State-provided privilege.

" But in the end, he wants the laws to favor him and him alone."
No, he actually wants the laws to be neutral towards him.  He isn't demanding a restriction on competition, or hundreds of millions in government loans or guarantees, or that the city build him a stadium and rent it to him at below commercial rates.  He's simply asking that he be allowed to sell something somebody wants.

" Like the besieged capitalists in The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, people like Travis Kalanick will compete with everyone on their way to the top, "
Because competing with people is bad somehow.

"trampling on their workers"
How is he trampling on the workers?  As I understand it the people who work for him are quite happy with the pay and conditions.  Or do you mean the workers employed by his competitors?  Are you saying that providing a better service at lower cost is "trampling" on those who provide a worse one at higher cost?  That's insane.  It's not his fault that the taxi companies can't provide what's wanted at a reasonable price.  Nor is it his fault that the workers in those taxi companies don't get the money they deserve.  Nothing stops those drivers from switching to working for Uber, and many are.  But even if they couldn't, why does the travelling public owe them a living?  Why do they get to say "I know you can get a ride better and quicker somewhere else, but you should pay me anyway, because I deserve it.". If counterforce is so concerned about the workers why have they NOT ONCE mentioned the $400K price of a taxi medallion?  Scrapping the need for that would free up thousands of dollars a year in unneeded finance costs that could go to the drivers.  Yet this is not mentioned.

"With the click of a button, Kalanick will completely destabilize and undermine African immigrant communities in Seattle. "
"Dozens of cab owners are currently threatened by the unrestrained expansion of Uber,"
I very much doubt African immigrants could afford the $400K medallion.  If counterforce really cares about the poor immigrants they had DECADES to protest the unfair medallion system.  They did not.  Therefore they don't give a damn about the poor Africans.

" If you hate arbitrary authority, if you know how to share, and if you want the people around you to be safe, you’re probably an anarchist."
Says someone who a) lauded the attempt to impose arbitrary authority, b) is actively opposing a way to share, and c) has not even tried to find out what is safest.

Finally, on a personal note.  You're scum.  Seriously that you would use the death of an innocent to stop poor people getting jobs, with no evidence for your view of what caused her death, makes you the lowest of fascist sympathizers.  And yes, I said fascist, for that is what you advanced in practice.