Today, Dec 15, is Hitch Day

Discuss philosophical questions regarding theism (and atheism), and discuss religion as it relates to philosophy. This includes any philosophical discussions that happen to be about god, gods, or a 'higher power' or the belief of them. This also generally includes philosophical topics about organized or ritualistic mysticism or about organized, common or ritualistic beliefs in the existence of supernatural phenomenon.
Eduk
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Re: Today, Dec 15, is Hitch Day

Post by Eduk » December 21st, 2017, 5:27 am

The usual human response to the Trolley Problem is to favour the many over the individual. The upshot of this attitude iterated over generations is our current situation where politicians now prioritise institutions over individuals
That is a bit of a leap!
Even if you demonstrated that institutions were prioritised over individuals (which you haven't) you would then have to show a causal intent (which you super haven't). It could be that the current situation, whatever it is, happened quite organically without great intent. For my money politicians only have so much power and influence and other forces hold a greater sway. Most politicians take advantage of situations rather than carve those situations out themselves.
Regarding the trolley problem. The point is not do you favour the many over the few (which is obviously morally the correct choice given you know nothing about the individuals) the point is does your answer change if the question is rephrased. The first question is do you pull a lever on a track to send a trolley into a single person or do you not pull the lever and allow the trolley to hit all ten. In the thought experiment we are given perfect knowledge that either the one dies or the ten die. The second question is similar but this time one person is on a bridge overlooking the track and ten people are on the trolley. Do you push the person off the bridge in front of the trolley. Again we are given perfect knowledge in that if you push the person off they die but all ten people in the trolley survive.
At least that has always been how the trolley problem has been phrased to me.

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Greta
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Re: Today, Dec 15, is Hitch Day

Post by Greta » December 21st, 2017, 6:12 am

Eduk, say you have a local concern. You might go to your local council and request an audience. Now imagine doing the same, but as the representative of a multi-billion dollar company ...

Eduk
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Re: Today, Dec 15, is Hitch Day

Post by Eduk » December 21st, 2017, 6:51 am

Well I see an individual who represents a company not a company which represents a man?
Either way, how much is in the control of whom? Did the man deliberately build a multi billion dollar company? Or did he just happen to get lucky with the right product? Or did he just get hired on to the board? Can he choose not to approach the government? How much is it a case of holding the Tiger's tail? For example imagine if kim jong un turned around tomorrow and said, sorry it's all ******** I'm not a demi-semi-God I'm just a slightly fat despot. How long would he survive? Can he at this point do much about his circumstances?

Ecurb
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Re: Today, Dec 15, is Hitch Day

Post by Ecurb » December 21st, 2017, 10:55 am

Here's a link to an essay castigating Hitchens for intellectual dishonesty. The author forgives Dawkins naivete on the grounds that he is a mere scientist, but thinks Hitchens should know better:

https://www.salon.com/2013/06/23/christ ... no_favors/

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Scribbler60
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Re: Today, Dec 15, is Hitch Day

Post by Scribbler60 » December 21st, 2017, 11:16 am

Ecurb wrote:
December 21st, 2017, 10:55 am
Here's a link to an essay castigating Hitchens for intellectual dishonesty. The author forgives Dawkins naivete on the grounds that he is a mere scientist, but thinks Hitchens should know better:

https://www.salon.com/2013/06/23/christ ... no_favors/
The author is pretty low, attacking Hitch after he's been dead and not available to defend himself.

Methinks the author has an axe to grind. It's also pretty poorly written (though that's not surprising since it comes from Salon).

Ecurb
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Re: Today, Dec 15, is Hitch Day

Post by Ecurb » December 21st, 2017, 11:48 am

Is it really "low" to criticize the published works of a dead author? Gee, what about all those biblical authors that Hitch criticized?

Since you don't like Salon, here's a link to a New Yorker article on Hitchens, Dawkins, et. al.

http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critic...books_gottlieb

Here's a link to Kierkegaard's "Fear andTrembling", which the Salon article claims Hitchens ignores out of intellectual dishonesty.
http://www.ccel.org/k/kierkegaard/selec ... mbling.htm

Here' a response to the Salon article:

http://www.salon.com/2013/07/06/god_...is_not_a_liar/

The debate continues:

http://www.salon.com/2013/07/14/hitc...a_philosopher/

I don't have a dog in this fight. I'm an atheist myself. But I find the debate interesting, although I certainly don't expect everyone here to read all the links.

Ecurb
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Re: Today, Dec 15, is Hitch Day

Post by Ecurb » December 21st, 2017, 11:58 am

For some reason, my New Yorker link doesn't seem to work. Here's another try (maybe you have to be a subscriber):

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2007 ... h-attitude

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Count Lucanor
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Re: Today, Dec 15, is Hitch Day

Post by Count Lucanor » December 22nd, 2017, 11:17 pm

The resented theists (and even their atheist acolytes) just can't forgive Hitchens for his heretic remarks against religion, as always happens when there's direct criticism of so many other "sacred cows" of culture. Hitchens, I understand, was a literary critic, which may explain his unrestrained, confrontational style. Resentment usually arises towards any other critic that targets something very popular, as religion is.

In the case of the Salon piece by Curtis White, he tries to disqualify Hitchens as dishonest, and apparently the only proof he has to offer actually disqualifies White himself as dishonest. Here's the excerpt:

For example, William J. Hamblin wrote a thorough and admirably restrained review (“The Most Misunderstood Book: Christopher Hitchens on the Bible”) in which he held Hitchens to account for historical howlers of this kind:

In discussing the exodus, Hitchens dogmatically asserts: “There was no flight from Egypt, no wandering in the desert . . . , and no dramatic conquest of the Promised Land. It was all, quite simply and very ineptly, made up at a much later date. No Egyptian chronicle mentions this episode either, even in passing. . . . All the Mosaic myths can be safely and easily discarded.” These narratives can be “easily discarded” by Hitchens only because he has failed to do even a superficial survey of the evidence in favor of the historicity of the biblical traditions. Might we suggest that Hitchens begin with Hoffmeier’s Israel in Egypt and Ancient Israel in Sinai? It should be noted that Hoffmeier’s books were not published by some small evangelical theological press but by Oxford University—hardly a bastion of regressive fundamentalist apologetics. Hitchens’s claim that “no Egyptian chronicle mentions this episode [of Moses and the Israelites] either, even in passing” is simply polemical balderdash.

Hamblin is thorough, patient, relentless, but also, it seems to me, a little perplexed and saddened by Hitchens’s naked dishonesty and, in all probability, by his own feeling of impotence. You can hardly blame him. Criticism of this character would have, and surely should have, revealed Hitchens’s book for what it is ... if it hadn’t been published in The FARMS Review of the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship at Brigham Young University. Hitchens need never have feared the dulling of his reputation for intellectual dash and brio from that source.


But as it turns out with the Exodus story, Hitchens was entirely right, as the work of biblical archaelogist Israel Finkelstein has confirmed. It simply didn't happen and there's no evidence that it did.

And that's it, that's all that Curtis White would show of Hitchens' "dishonesty". The rest are just White's opinions disagreeing with Hitchens.

He also complains about Hitchens' words against the story of Abraham and Isaac for not mentioning "Kierkegaard’s complex, poetic, and deeply felt philosophical retelling of the story in 'Fear and Trembling'." Adding some literary style and psychological tangles from the characters does not hide the deeply immoral message of the original story. Retelling the story of an ISIS fighter as he prepares to behead an infidel in the name of Allah, no matter how "complex, poetic and deeply felt" the story is presented, does not change its sick perversion. It actually makes it worst.

Then there's the other claim in this thread about cheap tricks in Hitchens' argument when he quoted Cardinal Newman. Here's the excerpt in question from that debate:

My text from the Apologia: "The Catholic church," said Newman, "holds it better for the sun and moon to drop from heaven, for the earth to fail and for all the many millions on it to die in extremist agony than that one soul, I will not say will be lost, but should commit one venial sin, should tell one willful untruth or should steal one farthing without excuse." You'll have to say it's beautifully phrased, ladies and gentlemen, but to me, and here's my proposition, what we have here, and picked from no mean source, is a distillation of precisely what is twisted and immoral in the faith mentality. Its essential fanaticism, its consideration of the human being as raw material and its fantasy of purity. Once you assume a creator and a plan, it makes us objects, in a cruel experiment, whereby we are created sick and commanded to be well. I'll repeat that: created sick, and then ordered to be well. And over us, to supervise this, is installed a celestial dictatorship, a kind of divine North Korea. Greedy, exigent—exigent, I would say more than exigent—greedy for uncritical praise from dawn until dusk and swift to punish the original sins with which it so tenderly gifted us in the very first place. However, let no one say there's no cure: salvation is offered, redemption, indeed, is promised, at the low price of the surrender of your critical faculties.

There's no cheap shot here, but a fairly good argument. He didn't disqualify Newman himself, whom he acknowledges as "rightly a great Christian thinker", but Hitchens aims at religion when it "forces nice people to do unkind things and also makes intelligent people say stupid things". He just seems to be paraphrasing the great Voltaire (a deist): "Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities."

Eduk
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Re: Today, Dec 15, is Hitch Day

Post by Eduk » December 23rd, 2017, 9:45 am

I don't have a dog in this fight
Er I may be misunderstanding you. Are you saying you are providing links not because you actually agree with what is written in them but because you find it interesting that someone else might agree with them?

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