Sunday, May 17, 2009

Regarding the filibuster

Labour has been utilizing the filibuster against national to block our super city bill -. hte idea of the supercity itself is pretty widely popular although Labour could say they have a popularist position in that they want various unspecified amendments - a nice way to catch everyone who is dissaffected.

Noright turn says

"Tuning in for half an hour tonight, I heard the government vote against requiring the Minister to appoint a woman to the Auckland transitional Authority to represent the region's 700,000 women - and then vote against requiring the ATA's members to actually be from Auckland. Both of these are reasonable, sane amendments - but they weren't National's amendments, and were therefore mindlessly opposed (besides, they'd clash with their plans to appoint 5 dead white male businessmen to run Auckland). "

First - obviously national is going to vote down every bill in the filibuster - they barely have time to vote against them let alone to read them. If Labour wanted National to consider them properly it should have not also submitted the thousand odd committee name changes with them.
Second the old (dead) white man line. First, to any other race that would be surely considered racism but the ironic thing is that this line is so 'on message" for labour that I actually heard this recently in regard to Melissa Lee. Now in case anyone doesn't get the irony there - she is a relitively young (by politician standards) asian female.

Dolan at just left gave us a nice history of the filibuster mentioning it's sue by cato and also by the New democratic party in Canada. He implied Labour hopes to follow in their footsteps. A couple of facts he missed out however

In April 1995 the Ontario new democratic party got 20.6% of the vote
in 1999 after the filibuster they got 12.6%
Cato on the other hand committed suicide (by tearing out his own bowels) after failing to stop Caesar.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Zombie wars

the zombie wars are well and truely reignighted the following seem to be the main points

1) P and NP should be expanded out so that htey are 'de re" as opposed ot 'de dicto' RB qwould like this to be done to the base facts and RC would prefer it jsut to stop at an arbitrary common moddle ground

Problem is I dont think (and I presume RB would agree) there is any possible meaningful middle ground. Under Reductionism if the "ultimate truthmakers" say Q is impossible so to does any other list of complete facts. that is why knowing that the UT disprove P~Q would be useful.
RC on the other hand would take that as long as there was some tension there between the apparent description at the mid level and the UT description he might get a little intuitive leverage and thus give his argument some sort of 'dialectic effectiveness'.

2) The Zombie argument seems to be stronger when phrased as a reducitonist argument

This might be an illusion of the fact that Richard is a hard core non-reducitonist, but he seems to reject the standard zombie argument which is a interesting development in itself.

To take the metaphore of a war a bit further the argument seems to feature RC retreating from all the usual psoitions and drawing RB to follow him down a narrow path. If the strategy works I suppose you catch the enemy over extended fighthing a battle they didnt expect to fight at the beginning. Dont know if that would happen or not.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Reducitonism (zombies)

Just a thought I thought i might throw out there....

The basic principle of reductionism is that a complex system is nothing but the sum of its parts, and that an account of it can be reduced to accounts of individual constituents.

Now in one way that seems true - I can say P = all the physical facts of the universe and if that is true P = the universe. If I take this to its extreeme I can say P includes explicitly everything in its definition including atoms etc, or at least in my definition it includes everything I think exists.

But at some other level it seems false to say the universe and the physical facts that make it up are the same - because what I am thinking isn't really identical. 1+1 and 2 are identical, and they should be entirely interchangable in a concversation - ie any where 2 occurs should be jsut the same with (1+1) in it... but they don't quite feel identical.

so what is the difference? well as a scientist might say - it is the level at which I am looking at P. In a sense, the perspective.

So why do I find this interesting? well it is a bit like how I explain first person experience or as zombie philosophers might say "the hard problem" except that it applies to a physicalist view of quantative ones. Ie that first person experience is a required perspective as is the low level analysis (the basic laws of hte universe) and the high level one (the universe). the latter two are far enough apart to give the same sort of feeling of incompatability as the first two and yet in a different sense we know they are compatable.

So lets say i concieve of a planet. I am visualising me seeing the earth from outer space as an astronaught - a perspective that could exist. Now I'll concieve of a molecule - now I'm imagining a model from a text book (because it wouldn't look like that in real life). I might even imagine a molecule as a set of facts like having a certain weight (as if I had some sort of 'weight vision").

If we dont shift the perspective like this then when I imagine a chair and imagine the molecues that make it up I could not tell the difference at all - it would just be a chair. Similarly if I imagine a human sans qualia and a human without using some sort of 'super qualia vision' I can't tell the differnce.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Christine Rankin

Christine Rankin has been apointed to the families comission. She was also a strong advocate for the repeal of the anti smacking bill. As such Sue bradford argued she was an inapropriate appointment.

I think that Sue may be right but she put her argument badly. She thinks Rankin is wrong because the anti smacking bill is a good thing - but that isa obviously disputed by the other side.

the question I as is, is the families comission supposed to be advocates for children like a union leader is supposed to be an advocate for workers. Right or wrong smacking is primarily alack of a right of the children (right to protection from it). In the same way as an employer might want the right to force employers to work overtime. If a union worker was openly advocating that bosses be able to force staff to work overtime it would be a bit odd to say the least. that would be true EVEN IF it was proven that forcing staff to work overtime was beneficial for them (afterall they get more money). Similar examples exist in law with defence and procecution.


Ruchard Chappel is back on one of my favourite topics utiltiarianism . And as usual he fires off all my "somthing is wrong on the internet" instincts.

he argues that it is bad to ignore higher-order evidence of our own fallibility. Well the confusing thing is that in one sense I cant imagine a utilitarian arguing that you should ignore your own falibility. I get the feeling there is a straw man being bashed with a stick - and to a degree this is supported by the fact that noone seems to comment on these posts - or at least not with substance. Still maybe he just needs to reference someone who does actually believe that you can ignore "higher order evidence" and still be a functional utilitarian.

There are lots of contentious statements in the post that would be tempting to challenge, but in the end that would just get off topic. Maybe if he directed his position at a real person/philosopher he might avoid that issue - but his current line doesnt seem to attract any substantive comments. I hope he's getting that debate somwhere else.