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Groups, Consciousness, and Consent | Common Fallacies

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Groups, Consciousness, and Consent | Common Fallacies

Post by Scott »

This is a discussion forum topic for the November 2022 Philosophy Book of the Month, In It Together: The Beautiful Struggle Uniting Us All.

Right in the very first page of the introduction of In It Together, I wrote the following:

Eckhart Aurelius Hughes (In It Together, page 1) wrote: Love, equality, freedom, and peace may be the most dangerously controversial subjects about which one can speak. To speak in support
of love, one challenges haters. To speak in support of fundamental human equality, one challenges sexists, racists, and those who would
dehumanize others as inferior. To speak of freedom and peace, one challenges violent oppressors; one challenges murderers, rapists, and
enslavers, the most dangerous of whom may be the ones who claim to commit such violence for the alleged greater good.

Despite the risks and controversy, I frequently speak out in strong support of love, peace, and freedom, and by extension I speak out in firm opposition to non-consensual non-defensive violence (e.g. murder, rape, slavery, etc.).

I openly and defiantly challenge rapists, murders, enslavers as well as those who encourage or support rape, murder, or slavery.

I have over 5,000 posts on these forum alone. Browse through them, and you will see that common theme running through them.

Sometimes it's posts about infanticide (i.e. murdering already born babies as a form of population control). Sometimes it's posts about murdering adult humans. Sometimes it's posts about imprisoning pacifists. Sometimes it's posts about state-sponsored homophobia. Sometimes it's posts about violent nanny statism (i.e. the violent macro-criminalization of victimless crimes).

That's five.

Five of over 5,000 posts.

But the common theme is clear, and politically it's best summed up by my pinned tweet: I adamantly support peace, and I am opposed to all non-consensual non-defensive violence (e.g. murder, rape, slavery, etc.). Sometimes it's hateful violent racists or hateful violent homophobes doing the non-defensive violence; sometimes it's violent self-righteous utilitarians with a god complex wanting a nanny state or such, who claim the non-defensive violence they commit against you is for your own good or for the greater good. Sometimes the violence is full-blown murder; sometimes they just beat you with their fists until you get a couple black eyes and some other sore bruises.

Those who believe their ends can 'justify' any means are therefore capable of self-righteously doing any means, including murder and rape, if they think under the fog of their god complex that doing so somehow supports their ends. For example, if population control is their end, then they may eagerly mass murder innocent living breathing humans to achieve it.

Nazis believed they were heroes. To the Nazis, the Nazis were the good guys.

The idea of there even being 'good guys' as such is just nonsense that aggressively violent people use to rationalize their dominating violence.

Most if not all humans are selfish and dishonest, some much more than others. Humans will create all sorts of smoke and mirrors to defend, falsely rationalize, or deny their actions. To many rapists, it's not good enough for them to just rape you, but rather they want to rape you and then also convince you, themselves, and/or others that the sex was consensual. They want to have their cake and eat it too, where having their cake is raping you, and eating it too is somehow convincing the world it wasn't even rape but rather consensual.

Many rapists will say of their victim, "she was asking for it". It's not true, of course. "Asking for it" is just another term for "consent". A rape victim, by definition, was not asking for it. A rape victim, by definition, did not consent. But the rapist will look people in the eye and claim otherwise, as will the rapist's lawyers and the rapist's other rhetorical defenders and sympathizers.

Many of us will be shocked to see that my poll about Martin Luther King is not unanimous. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested 29 times. Many would absurdly claim that he consented to being thrown in a jail, a locked cage. "He was asking for it," many would say. They might come up with all sorts of confusing fallacious mental acrobatics to support such an absurd accusation. They might present all sorts of fallacious smoke and mirrors to explain away obvious facts such as the very fact that the cage was locked. Why would they lock the cage if he was in there consensually?

Of course, we get the same problem when talking to the lawyer defending a rapist, and ask why the accused rapist had to use a loaded gun to get the sex to happen. We might ask, why did the rapist have to point a loaded gun at his victim and threaten to shoot her unless she complied? The lawyer will have a convoluted answer that ultimately still supports his absurd claim that the victim was "asking for it" (i.e. consented).

Consent is not that complicated. Humans are selfish and often lie. Getting to the truth can be difficult and complicated, but consent itself is not. In practice, things get muddied by lies and deceptive self-serving selfish rhetoric. A given he-said-she-said situation might muddy the waters and be difficult to unravel. Philosophically, it's not complicated at all. Wearing a short dress isn't asking for it. Asking for it is asking for it. Philosophically, at least, consent is not complicated.

Sometimes honest relatively unselfish people accidentally commit logical fallacies and make absurd convoluted arguments. Other times, it's done dishonestly and/or out of selfishness. Johnnie Cochran's convincing arguments convinced a jury to acquit O.J. Simpson. Did Johnnie Cochran believe his own arguments? Did he convince himself? Did he think O.J. was innocent? Did he think the jury made the correct decision? Maybe; maybe not. But I don't doubt for a second that Johnnie Cochran is a lot more honest and has a lot more integrity than the average human, which is no compliment to Johnnie Cochran or lawyers in general, but rather a commentary on how very cynical I am about the average human.

But, don't get me wrong; I'm a loving cynic. As I say in the book, neither false idolization nor false idealization are love. I'm cynical because I'm realistic. And, I love people for who and what they really are. In contrast, both false idolization and false idealization are common symptoms of not fully accepting that which you cannot control. If you love things for what you wish they were, rather than what they actually are, you don't really love them at all. It's when one hates the reality of what one sees that one chooses to see something else, something that isn't even there.

Whatever the reason, there are many fallacies that humans commit; Sometimes selfishly; Sometimes accidentally.

In particular, I've noticed there are three common logical fallacies that are common in all sorts of philosophical discussions about all sorts of different subjects that also come up very often in matters related to groups, consent, and consciousness.

The Fallacy of Personification (or "The Pathetic Fallacy")

Don't be confused by the name "pathetic fallacy"; It doesn't mean that a person who uses the pathetic fallacy is pathetic. Rather, pathetic is being used merely in the sense of being the opposite of apathetic. In any case, I prefer the label "The Fallacy of Personification", which also is usually taken to mean something even broader. Pathetic fallacies involve specifically misapplying human emotions to that which doesn't have them. In contrast, more broadly, A Fallacy of Personification would refer to a misapplication of any human trait to a non-human, particularly a non-animal, and particularly an inanimate and/or non-living object. If applied to intangible abstract concepts, it also tends to be a case of fallacious reification.

One might conclude that a fridge wants to eat and swallow your groceries, and keep them in its fridge-belly, since it doesn't choose to spit out the groceries you put in there. Then you might feel bad about leaving your peanut butter on the counter instead of feeding it to your hungry desiring fridge. This also gives us a new way to look at toilets and the way they gladly gobble up pee and poop. Sick freaks.

This fallacy comes up often when talking about groups of humans or groups of animals.

You could easily imagine some white ultra-left-wing do-gooder college teenager with a god complex assigning one Latino person as "Official Spokesperson of Latinos" and then asking that person, "do you on behalf of your group consent to me changing your group's name to Latinx (a term that, love it or hate it, polls show is offensive to many Latinos and favorable to very few)?"

That would be all non-sense of of course, as much as thinking my fridge is sad because I didn't feed it the peanut butter.

Such sloppy fallacious thinking also causes people not to see the beauty of diversity within groups, such that one needn't choose between different terms. The sloppy thinking has one thinking they have to choose between calling all Latinos "Latinx" or "Latino" or "Hispanic" as if the group itself as a group had a singular preference, which is nonsense, racist nonsense. Because of the polls showing it is so offensive to so many Latinos, I would never call someone Latinx off a whim, but if any one specific person explicitly let me know that they themself as an individual prefer it, I happily abide by that person's individual preferences when speaking with that person. Individual humans have preferences; Generally speaking, groups of humans do not.

That is not to say groups don't exist. My fridge exists, but it isn't a human being. A group of human beings isn't itself a human being. Both racists and many (but not all) anti-racists make the same mistake of treating vaguely defined groups of humans as if they were one human, which is a blatant absurd logical fallacy. Then they say absurd nonsensical things like, "the group wants...", "the group thinks...", "the group has chosen the label...". Such statements only come close to making sense if all the members of the group unanimously want, think, consent to, or have chosen the thing, and even then it's dubious and still almost certainly fallacious.

I used racism above as an example, but it's just that: a mere example. Think of your own life. How many times have you felt your individuality or that of others being infringed or irrationally denied by some imposing over-controlling person saying things about what "the group wants...", as if not only can they speak for the group but also as if that even makes sense to think of a group as if it was a human with thoughts and wants and desires. If they could say, "Every single person in the group wants..." they would. They fallaciously imply the group itself is a desiring entity for whom they can speak to trick you and give their words false weight. When one says, "The group wants...", it almost certainly means there are many people in the group who explicitly don't want it, whatever it is.

Many times the easiest and most effective rebuttal is simply to ask, "who wants that specifically?"

They probably won't even answer you, or will do so begrudgingly with a sense of defeat. Usually, you will have already won your case just by asking the question.

Imposing arrogant control freaks often just use the word "the group" to refer to themselves, or themselves and a few of their cronies. If they had real logic and facts to back up what they are saying and make their case, they would have used that in the first place instead of nonsense. Sometimes they do it just do fallaciously pressure you; sometimes they will follow it up with violence.

When it comes to non-defensive violence, meaning the initiation of violence, it's often a symptom of the lack of logical sensible reasoning to support what one wants. People won't typically resort to the sword if the pen will do. Both illogical arguments and violence itself are symptoms of the illogical arguer or violent person lacking a logical argument.

I give some examples of such group-think related nonsense in my topic, Voting is Uncorrelated to Consent.

It is utterly and fallaciously absurd to conflate (1) "the majority of individuals in the group want X" with (2) "the group wants X". Those are very different things, and the latter one is generally nonsense regardless. It might be the case that the vast majority of women find me sexy and absolutely irresistible and eagerly instantly consent to have sex with me, but that hardly means I could go around and have sex with any woman and consider consensual.

It's that kind of obviously fallacious argument that people to claim Martin Luther King consented to being in jail, or that martial rape in the USA was legal that it wasn't even really "rape" because it was legal and people consent to following the laws or such.

This fallacious way of treating a whole group as an individual human, and thereby judging the entire group by some of its individual constituents is the fundamental fallacy of racism and is extremely common in the approach taken by many many over-zealous over-eager anti-racists. In other words, in an imposing over-zealous nanny-state-style anti-racism, many anti-racists ultimately behave racist themselves. How do you suspect minorities feel when majorities re-name them by vote? Many anti-racists stop seeing groups of humans as as a collection of individuals, and instead start mis-seeing individuals as being mere faces of a group. An over-zealous imposing nanny-state-style anti-racist might over-focus on other's person skin color or religion or ethnicity, for example. They might meet a full human being in all their complex unique glory and see a mere few labels and stereotypes. Just as the same with racism itself, it can even infect the way people see themselves in the mirror. In their correct rejection of racism, some over-zealous anti-racists may go so far as to become what they oppose, especially to the degree they are arrogant, or self-righteous, or have an imposing 'ends-justify-the-means' attitude. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Friedrich Nietzsche wrote, "He who fights with monsters must take care lest he thereby becomes a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."

Alan Watts said, "All the do-gooders are troublemakers."

The Fallacy of Composition

An example of the fallacy of composition is this argument:

Premise: Bananas are delicious.
Premise: Pizza is delicious.
Conclusion: If I put bananas and pizza in a blender, the resulting smoothie will taste delicious.

This also helps explain why voting is uncorrelated to consent, even if it is unanimous, as shown in my topic about how even unanimous voting is uncorrelated to consent.

Additional examples of fallacies of composition are as follows:

- Individual ants are conscious, therefore ant colonies are conscious.

- Individual ants can consent, therefore ant colonies can consent.

- Individual humans are conscious, therefore groups of humans are conscious.

- Each individual human has a discreet conscious spirit, therefore each group of humans has, as a group, a discreet conscious spirit.

- Individual humans can consent, therefore groups of humans can consent.

I am not saying any of the above statements are true or false per se, but rather that the logic is fallacious.

The Fallacy of Decomposition

This is just the inverse of the fallacy of composition. It is the utterly fallacious idea that what is true of the whole or of the group is also true of its parts.

An individual human being is a group of cells, most of which are not even human cells. According to some studies, only 43% of the cells in your body are human cells. On a cell-by-cell level, you are mostly not human. If you snapped your fingers and magically made all the non-human cells in your body disappear, you would instantly die, and the corpse would not look very human at all. That's not even to mention the many things in your body that are not cells and are not alive, including quite a bit of plastic that you've eaten. A human is, by definition, something that is made of parts that are mostly not human.

A biology teacher teaching kids about the immune system might talk about what your immune cells want to do, and what bacteria and viruses want to do, and how they fight and try to trick and deceive each other. Taken literally, that's all nonsense that is at best patently untrue if not just meaningless gibberish.

A nanny-state do-gooder might talk about groups of humans in that same nonsense way.

In terms of their ability to have discreet consciousness, to think, to choose, to give consent, to make decisions, and so forth, groups of humans are very similar to individual cells in your body (and remember most cells in your body are not even human cells). Just like a single cell is not a human, so too is a group of humans not a human.

I'm not necessarily saying that ant colonies are conscious or not, or that ants are conscious or not, or that individual cells in your body are conscious or not, or that groups of humans are discreetly conscious or not (meaning having a single discreet group consciousness that is as singular and separate from other groups as one individual human's consciousness is from another). All I am saying is that the logic often used to treat individual cells or a group of humans as a group as being conscious is usually either a Fallacy of Decomposition or a Fallacy of Composition, with both in this case also often being combined with and exacerbated by a Fallacy of Personification.

It gets even more absurd when, instead of mere consciousness, we talk about things like consent.

It's one thing to imagine that a mouse is conscious, or that a tree is conscious, or that an ant colony as a whole is conscious. I tend to usually think that in some unfamiliar way they probably all are.

But it's a whole other thing to think that a mouse, a tree, or an ant colony can consent. It takes a lot more to consent than to merely be conscious.

And the same thing goes for a group of humans as a singular group.

Can a group of humans have a singular discreet consciousness, meaning have a single group consciousness that is as discreet and singular and separate from other groups' consciousness as one individual human's consciousness is from another?

I'd certainly believe the answer to that question is yes long before I would think that it even makes sense to treat each group of humans as if it is able to consent. Consciousness? Maybe. Consent? No way.

If I had to bet one way or the other, I would bet that a single ant crawling on the ground is conscious. But I don't think an ant can consent.

If I had to bet one way or the other, I would bet that a single mouse crawling on the ground is conscious. But I don't think a mouse can consent.

If I had to bet one way or the other, I would bet that a crying newborn human baby is conscious. But I don't think a human baby can consent.

If I had to bet one way or the other, I would bet that a single living tree in a yard is conscious. But I don't think a tree can consent.

If I had to bet one way or the other, I would probably bet that a forest is conscious. But regardless I don't think a forest can consent.

If I had to bet one way or the other, I would probably bet that most groups of humans are not as a group discreetly conscious. But, regardless, typically, I don't think a group as a group can consent. To me, that's like saying a forest consents; it doesn't make sense; it's incoherent.

I think all the individual humans in a group can consent, but I think it would clearly be a blatant illogical Fallacy of Composition to conclude that the group consents because all the individuals do.

If I walk into a room with 5 people, and all 5 people (understandably) want to have sex with me and consent to have sex with me (because I'm so beautiful and cool), I think it would be a blatant illogical Fallacy of Composition to conclude that the group as a group wants to have sex with me, or has a sex drive at all, or that--literally speaking--it makes any sense to say "the group wants..." at all.

Sure it can be a literary device or concisely poetic way to gibber gabber, like saying the clouds cry to describe rain. But, taken literally, it denotes feelings and thoughts that are obviously not there, and a capacity to feel and think that obviously isn't there. Saying "the group wants X" can be sloppy poetic shorthand for saying "every one in the group wants X" or such, much like one could sloppily describe Newtonian physics by saying, "the moving object, due to its mass, wants to keep going". The object doesn't want. The group doesn't want.

That isn't to say that the cells in your body don't exist, or that groups of humans don't exist, or that mice, ants, trees, clouds, and weather don't exist. They all exist, but none of them are humans. Being made of humans is different than being human. Even if something is unanimously true of every single human in the group (e.g. thinking Scott is pretty), that in no way remotely at all indicates it is true of the group.

What do you think?

Did this post give you a new perspective on looking at groups and cells, meaning about that which we come together to form, and about that which comes together to form us?

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My entire political philosophy summed up in one tweet.

"The mind is a wonderful servant but a terrible master."

I believe spiritual freedom (a.k.a. self-discipline) manifests as bravery, confidence, grace, honesty, love, and inner peace.
Kajori Sheryl Paul
Premium Member
Posts: 1
Joined: November 3rd, 2022, 10:16 am

Re: Groups, Consciousness, and Consent | Common Fallacies

Post by Kajori Sheryl Paul »

Being made of humans is different than being human

This line truly resonated with me. Everyone in a group can think the same yet it does not mean that the group has the same thought. It is trueiu conversely as well. The group might have one thought. However, that does not automatically mean that everyone in that group thinks the same.
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