Author Topic: A Pill for Men?  (Read 5361 times)

Fenring

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Re: A Pill for Men?
« Reply #100 on: February 26, 2023, 02:19:21 AM »
Quote from: Fenring
Ok, I see why you thought that now. I'll try to be a bit more clear and specific, and say that I meant the argument is a non-starter as a method of persuasion to people inclined to use birth control.

Yeah, I don't care about this.

You've said similar things before, I know, but wanted to offer the suggestion anyhow. If you don't want then that's ok.

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I'm not interested in doing verbal gymnastics, and especially not in anticipation of how I imagine someone might react.

Well it's gymnastics in the same way as any conversation with someone else involves gymnastics, in the sense that you're anticipating how they'll receive your remarks. If you go into work and your co-worker made him or herself up in a way you think is ugly, and they ask you whether they look good, do you say "you look ugly"? I think it's normal to imagine how that will go over and avoid saying that even if it's what you think. If you want to call that gymnastics, ok, but I think the assessment of how remarks will be received is a fairly standard aspect of all human interaction.

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Quote from: Fenring
So I was, rather than attacking you, inviting you to visualize how someone who does (and wants to) use contraception would interpret a Catholic saying "you shouldn't, because it has side effects." After all, if they are decently well-informed they would know that no scientific discovery conceivable could persuade you that using contraception is ok after all. So why should this argument 'based on science' therefore be taken seriously?

Well first, my argument wasn't "based on science". I love science and would never treat it so disrespectfully. My argument was based on the entirety of natural consequences of a free-sex-positive culture. Some of those consequences are materialistic and measurable by science (such as the spread of STDs) but many of them are not in the realm of science (for example: that having STDs is bad rather than good).

You wrote this on page 1:

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It's bad for men because it is almost certainly going to have late-discovered side effects which are harmful. Look at the side-effects of female birth control, women talk about it all the time. It's not good to go messing around with the fundamental functions of our bodies with brute-force, poorly tested chemicals.

It is bad for women because it will tend to increase promiscuity. The pill and the sexual revolution have produced depression, anxiety, confusion, and sadness in women.

How is this not an argument from science? The only way you'd be able to verify there are side effects is from study such as double blind trials. Anticipating future side effects is likewise a scientific prediction. Likewise, an argument that the two causes you name produced some bad effects would have to be a conclusion from a scientific or at least semi-scientific method, which is to say, looking for good data correlation between these. Otherwise how can you claim to know that the pill and the sexual revolution in fact produced these results? I will note that you're stating it as a fact, and as such it requires hard evidence. So that's why I called these points an argument from science.

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What do you think my real argument is, "because the Pope says so"?  Please.

Not so much your 'real' argument, but your best argument. I was perhaps presuming in saying this that you in fact agree that the Church's moral teachings are correct. If they are, then the best argument would be its best argument.

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If you think there's a better argument, go ahead and make it. But it'll be Fenring's argument, not Josh's. (Unless you convince me, in which case I will shamelessly steal it).

It won't be my argument, it will be this quote from the Catechism:

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Fecundity is a gift, an end of marriage, for conjugal love naturally tends to be fruitful. A child does not come from outside as something added on to the mutual love of the spouses, but springs from the very heart of that mutual giving, as its fruit and fulfillment. So the Church, which "is on the side of life" teaches that "each and every marriage act must remain open 'per se' to the transmission of life." "This particular doctrine, expounded on numerous occasions by the Magisterium, is based on the inseparable connection, established by God, which man on his own initiative may not break, between the unitive significance and the procreative significance which are both inherent to the marriage act."

[...]

Periodic continence, that is, the methods of birth regulation based on self-observation and the use of infertile periods, is in conformity with the objective criteria of morality. These methods respect the bodies of the spouses, encourage tenderness between them, and favor the education of an authentic freedom. In contrast, "every action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible" is intrinsically evil:

Thus the innate language that expresses the total reciprocal self-giving of husband and wife is overlaid, through contraception, by an objectively contradictory language, namely, that of not giving oneself totally to the other. This leads not only to a positive refusal to be open to life but also to a falsification of the inner truth of conjugal love, which is called upon to give itself in personal totality.... the difference, both anthropological and moral, between contraception and recourse to the rhythm of the cycle . . . involves in the final analysis two irreconcilable concepts of the human person and of human sexuality.

These are the major and perennial arguments the Church has made. As you say, there are other reasons we can find that make sense, but they are surely not as relevant or foundational as the above, which is why Humae Vitae (the seminal encyclical on the subject, which formed the current understanding of the Church's position on it) stresses that it's the intrinsically evil nature of the act of using contraception which makes it bad. In fact it even addresses potential good that may come from using contraception, and invokes the doctrine that you may not do evil that good may come of it. In saying this Pope Paul VI addresses the possibility that on the level of Earthly consequences even if you could somehow show good could result from using it, it's still an evil act. On this basis it's therefore not even necessary to demonstrate harmful material consequences to make the case, although of course they may well exist. This is what I meant by saying you were underserving the argument by employing something else instead of the 'big guns' (from the Catholic point of view).

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If I ended up to be wrong about the consequences, yeah, that could change my mind. It could change my mind about this topic, and it could change my mind about Catholicism.

If it could be proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that a contraceptive pill could be invented that had zero detrimental side effects to your physiology, I seriously hope this wouldn't affect your view on the morality of the topic. If by "consequences" you're including the moral consequences and other elements that are involved in sex culture, then that's another matter, but I think I was pretty clear that I was strictly addressing the utility of arguing that the pill is bad because it has side effects. And by the way I was motivated to bring this up with you because it's actually an argument I hear brought up quite often from orthodox Catholics, and I think it's a problematic line to take.

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I'm not saying "if some peer-reviewed study concludes that I'm wrong". I don't give a damn about peer-reviewed studies. I'm saying that if a sober and deep review of the evidence showed that free sex was actually totally harmless to the self and others, then that would change my mind.

Again, I wasn't addressing arguments about the potential harm coming from free sex, I was talking about using scientific data such as pharmaceutical side effects to explain why contraception is bad. However I'd like to know how you imagine a sober and deep review of the evidence could evaluate the state of peoples' souls, such that it could change your mind? Even if they all went around laughing and saying how great it all was, and the GDP was up, and men respected women more, would that actually change your opinion about free sex and its moral implications?
« Last Edit: February 26, 2023, 02:24:15 AM by Fenring »

Tom

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Re: A Pill for Men?
« Reply #101 on: February 26, 2023, 08:41:28 AM »
The whole reason I brought up "essence," Joshua, is that it is Catholic doctrine as of the 1400s that "intent" in the case of salvation speaks to the soul's intent and not the conscious mind's intent. If you "want" to harm me because of a chemical imbalance and kill me as a result, that does not necessarily mean that your essential self wanted me dead. Your soul may well be saved even if your body is causing it to commit acts of evil.

JoshuaD

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Re: A Pill for Men?
« Reply #102 on: February 27, 2023, 01:31:09 AM »
If we suppose that I am mind-controlled by some alien such that my will is entirely subjugated to my puppet-master's, then you are correct in saying that in that scenario any acts the puppet-master performs with my body does not make me guilty of sin.

I don't think it's accurate to say that being an alcoholic can free us from the consequences of our sins. Although alcohol seems to weaken the will and habituate us towards evil, alcohol does not destroy the will or supplant it.

If I want to be as generous as possible to your original post, I will say that God understands the full circumstances of our sins, and judges us justly and with mercy. He's not a machine or a computer program; He is a person, and in some sense all that matters in the end is our relationship with him. Nothing strictly precludes a man who lived his life in depraved sin from repairing his relationship with God on his death bed and finding heaven.  I would not call that man "heaven bound" prior to his contrition, but I also certainly wouldn't call him "hellbound". For as long as we are alive, all of our chips our on the table. Only when we die do our wills becomes fixed.

I don't want to be stickler on language, but I am having trouble understanding what you mean when you say "in essence good". Essence in Catholic philosophy typically talks about what something is.People are in essence human -- rational animals -- and we sometimes perform good and evil acts. We might have developed in virtue or decayed into vice such that we are inclined more towards good or evil acts, but I've never seen a Catholic say "that man is evil in essence" or "that man is good in essence".  Sinfulness is at most a state or a habituated inclination. It is not a sort of being: Hitler was not in essence a "sinful human". He was in essence human, and he was habituated to evil acts.

JoshuaD

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Re: A Pill for Men?
« Reply #103 on: February 27, 2023, 02:04:23 AM »
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Fenring: Ok, I see why you thought that now. I'll try to be a bit more clear and specific, and say that I meant the argument is a non-starter as a method of persuasion to people inclined to use birth control.

Josh:  Yeah, I don't care about this.

Fenring: You've said similar things before, I know, but wanted to offer the suggestion anyhow. If you don't want then that's ok.

Yeah, basically the only conversations I recall having with you here in the past year or two are you telling me how you think I should articulate my arguments.

I'm basically good on all that. A meta-analysis of whether what I said is maximally efficient under Fenring's judgment (or anyone else's) isn't a terribly interesting conversation to me. Especially because I tend to take a polar-opposite approach to your style of communicating.

For example, I think you'd be a lot more convincing and clear-headed if you edited your posts down to one-sixth of their length and centered them on clear and articulated points. I've told you this once or twice before. I'm not trying to keep bringing it up every time we talk.

I'd be overjoyed if you said "Josh, I think you are wrong about X for reason A." But I'm basically all done hearing "Josh I think your argument for X would be more convincing to {an imagined person} if you said {A B C D E} instead of Z."  Just write {A B C D E} yourself. I'll write Z as I see fit.

I personally hate when people twist up their ideas and flood me with words in an attempt to address arguments I haven't made. I find it disrespectful and painful. I'm certainly not going to talk that way to other people. I'm just going to speak as plainly as I can and trust the other guy to interpret me charitably and articulate his own objections.

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Fenring: You wrote this on page 1:
Quote from: Josh
It's bad for men because it is almost certainly going to have late-discovered side effects which are harmful. Look at the side-effects of female birth control, women talk about it all the time. It's not good to go messing around with the fundamental functions of our bodies with brute-force, poorly tested chemicals.

It is bad for women because it will tend to increase promiscuity. The pill and the sexual revolution have produced depression, anxiety, confusion, and sadness in women.

How is this not an argument from science? The only way you'd be able to verify there are side effects is from study such as double blind trials. Anticipating future side effects is likewise a scientific prediction. Likewise, an argument that the two causes you name produced some bad effects would have to be a conclusion from a scientific or at least semi-scientific method, which is to say, looking for good data correlation between these. Otherwise how can you claim to know that the pill and the sexual revolution in fact produced these results? I will note that you're stating it as a fact, and as such it requires hard evidence. So that's why I called these points an argument from science.

Science can't tell us that things like depression and promiscuity are bad. Science has no values. In addition, science is very bad at measuring whether someone is depressed or anxious or sad. Certainly observation and study of the people around us and the changes in our society informs my argument. Some of that is a sort of science. But it's absurd to say that my argument was "an argument from science".


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Fenring, [quotes the catechism] These are the major and perennial arguments the Church has made...

These aren't arguments, they're statements from the Pope to the faithful assuming a largely shared worldview. if I'm talking to a Catholic friend I might point at that as an argument. That's not ornery. If you'd like to do that go ahead. Leave me out of it. 

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JoshuaD; If I ended up to be wrong about the consequences, yeah, that could change my mind. It could change my mind about this topic, and it could change my mind about Catholicism.

Fenring:  If it could be proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that a contraceptive pill could be invented that had zero detrimental side effects to your physiology, I seriously hope this wouldn't affect your view on the morality of the topic. If by "consequences" you're including the moral consequences and other elements that are involved in sex culture, then that's another matter, but I think I was pretty clear that I was strictly addressing the utility of arguing that the pill is bad because it has side effects. And by the way I was motivated to bring this up with you because it's actually an argument I hear brought up quite often from orthodox Catholics, and I think it's a problematic line to take.

If my friend is a drunk, I'm going to tell him all of the reasons I believe alcohol is bad: it harms the liver, it destroys your mental health, it destroys your relationships, happiness, etc. 

If in the future we study alcohol carefully and find out that it doesn't destroy the liver, well, that would be surprising, and I would change that part of my argument in light of that fact. It wouldn't undermine the other parts of my argument.

In the meantime, I'm pretty damn sure alcohol destroys the liver, so I'm going to include that in my list of reasons why you shouldn't be a drunk. In principle this is a negatable assertion, it doesn't matter. It is a true assertion, and it is a good reason not to be a drunk.

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Josh: I'm not saying "if some peer-reviewed study concludes that I'm wrong". I don't give a damn about peer-reviewed studies. I'm saying that if a sober and deep review of the evidence showed that free sex was actually totally harmless to the self and others, then that would change my mind.
 
Fenring: Again, I wasn't addressing arguments about the potential harm coming from free sex, I was talking about using scientific data such as pharmaceutical side effects to explain why contraception is bad. However I'd like to know how you imagine a sober and deep review of the evidence could evaluate the state of peoples' souls, such that it could change your mind? Even if they all went around laughing and saying how great it all was, and the GDP was up, and men respected women more, would that actually change your opinion about free sex and its moral implications?

Do you really not understand what I wrote? If all of my views and observations and analysis regarding free sex were negated, yes, that would rock me to my core and would cause me to rethink many things, including this pill and my religious views. What's confusing about that?

------------------

My meta point is this: I just wrote you a book and I have no earthly idea what we are talking about and what it has to do with the topic of the thread.. I almost just deleted all of that because it's absurd for me to justify my words to you in that way.

I'm good on all the quidicating. In the future, if you think you can give me some advice on how to make my argument better, please hold your tongue. If you don't, please don't be surprised when I don't respond. This pill for men sucks for all of the reasons I said on page one. Any questions?

Tom

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Re: A Pill for Men?
« Reply #104 on: February 27, 2023, 09:50:06 AM »
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I am having trouble understanding what you mean when you say "in essence good".
In Catholic dualism, your essence is distinct from your materia, and in fact your materia is not an indicator of your essence. This is why wafers and wine do not perceptibly, materially change to flesh and blood, but they are believed to be in essence -- in their, real, true, spirit -- transformed. In the same way, your physical body and your physical mind do not reliably express indicators re: the state of your soul, and vice versa. They can be linked, and indeed many Catholics verge on heresy on this point because it is so difficult to imagine that they are not more strongly linked than doctrine establishes, but you can have a good and repentant soul while performing evil actions if the materials of your earthly existence prevent your soul from properly expressing itself (and vice versa; you can do only good actions and believe you're doing them for good reasons but your soul might not be truly repentant.)

Fenring

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Re: A Pill for Men?
« Reply #105 on: February 27, 2023, 02:14:53 PM »
Science can't tell us that things like depression and promiscuity are bad. Science has no values. In addition, science is very bad at measuring whether someone is depressed or anxious or sad. Certainly observation and study of the people around us and the changes in our society informs my argument. Some of that is a sort of science. But it's absurd to say that my argument was "an argument from science".

My point wasn't that science tell us that depression is bad; we assert that as an axiom. What the social sciences do is establish correlation between causes and effects. It's not so much that people are depressed, but to zero in on why they're depressed. But will you at minimum agree that when you address the issue of pharmaceutial side effects on the body this is necessarily a science issue?

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These aren't arguments, they're statements from the Pope to the faithful assuming a largely shared worldview. if I'm talking to a Catholic friend I might point at that as an argument. That's not ornery. If you'd like to do that go ahead. Leave me out of it.

I will admit I was simply assuming that you do in fact agree with the quote in question. I understand why it's not always that useful to bring out such material in a casual conversation. I chose to trot it out because I was trying to establish that if you do agree with the deeper implications of what sex is, then even if all the secular arguments were answered (e.g. society is not apparently suffering, people report being happier on the pill, there are no longer medical side effects) it would still have no bearing on a Catholic stance on contraception. I wasn't saying that these other matters aren't also important. So that might help explain what I meant for this:

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Do you really not understand what I wrote? If all of my views and observations and analysis regarding free sex were negated, yes, that would rock me to my core and would cause me to rethink many things, including this pill and my religious views. What's confusing about that?

My point was that if you do agree with the "opinion of the Pope" then there could not be any conceivable empirical result that should sway your opinion on the topic, since the deeper connotations of sex cannot be found in the material. Is that a bit more clear? But it's true my remarks did rest upon the premise that I thought you agree with "the Pope" (it's not really 'the Pope', but that's a side topic).

Tom

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Re: A Pill for Men?
« Reply #106 on: February 27, 2023, 02:29:21 PM »
I know a handful of converts to various faiths who all believe that they converted for reality-adjacent reasons: to wit, that the religion to which they switched best modeled reality and had the best recommendations for dealing with reality. These individuals would be very reluctant to admit that they would follow or even advocate an element of that religion's doctrine even if there were no secular logic behind that doctrine (i.e. the doctrine had no perceptible benefits), since they converted precisely because they believed their chosen faith's doctrine demonstrated the most real-world benefit(s).

Fenring

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Re: A Pill for Men?
« Reply #107 on: February 27, 2023, 02:39:26 PM »
That's a really good point, Tom, and I don't want to knock anyone who respects a faith practice for having good answers to real world problems. I'm certainly happy to employ Yoga or Tai Chi practice, for example, when I see real merit in the approach, although that's still quite a bit different from converting to Hinduism/Buddhism. And I agree with the idea that a good religion should definitely have practical answers to real world problems. But contraception happens to be one of those tricky issues where the main religious objection is a bit ephemeral on a practical basis. That certainly still gives individuals plenty of room to have their own reasons to be against something, and all the power to them in that. But when you get into other issues, such as whether the Eucharist really is a change of essence, there's not much room there for the practical side; you either believe it or you don't (within a gradation of the strength of that belief, of course).

ETA - I was focused on Joshua's OP in particular because it was presented as a series of facts whose result should be a legal banning of contraceptives (or at least getting them off the market, somehow). If it had just been "I don't like X for Y reasons" then that would be different. When we're getting into the realm of asserting something as a fact that others must accept - which is what the application of law literally is - then it needs to be established whether the objections can be answered on a practical basis. But generally speaking Catholics (and other religious people) have objections to certain matters, such as abortion, which very likely no practical solution would answer.
« Last Edit: February 27, 2023, 02:49:53 PM by Fenring »

JoshuaD

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Re: A Pill for Men?
« Reply #108 on: February 28, 2023, 01:16:01 AM »
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Tom: You can be the rudest, most evil bastard on the face of the planet due to some chemical imbalance like alcoholism, and you could still be Heaven-bound because your soul has accepted salvation.

......
Tom: In Catholic dualism, your essence is distinct from your materia, and in fact your materia is not an indicator of your essence. This is why wafers and wine do not perceptibly, materially change to flesh and blood, but they are believed to be in essence -- in their, real, true, spirit -- transformed. In the same way, your physical body and your physical mind do not reliably express indicators re: the state of your soul, and vice versa. They can be linked, and indeed many Catholics verge on heresy on this point because it is so difficult to imagine that they are not more strongly linked than doctrine establishes, but you can have a good and repentant soul while performing evil actions if the materials of your earthly existence prevent your soul from properly expressing itself (and vice versa; you can do only good actions and believe you're doing them for good reasons but your soul might not be truly repentant.)

You're using words in a way that Catholics don't, so it's pretty hard to figure out what you're trying to say. I think you're misunderstanding Catholic doctrine and then extending it badly from that misunderstanding.  I'll try to respond point by point.

"Good" or "Evil" as a property of the essence: This is the big mistake you keep making in your rendering of Catholic ideas. A person's essence is not good or evil.  "Good" is not the answer to "What is Josh?". I may do good acts, I may do good evil acts. But what I am is human.

Transubstantiation: The change of the substance of bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ is a supernatural phenomenon. (Note: it is not transformed as you say; that means something else entirely). This is a mysterious act by God. It is not in the nature of bread and wine to substantially change into body and blood. It is not in the nature of a human to be able to change bread and wine into body and blood. It is not natural for flesh to have the appearance and accidents of bread. This is supernatural. It is an effect produced by God exceeding the power of the created universe. Extending this supernatural phenomenon to speak generally about the natural world is not reasonable.

The material body's relation to the soul: The soul is the form of the body and the first principle of life. Form means "that which makes a thing the kind of thing it is." The form is the organizational pattern that unifies and coordinates the parts of the human body. The soul is intrinsically linked to the matter of the body; they are not two separate things in the way that you are suggesting. I tend to believe they are unified as outlined in the hylomorphism of Aquinas (although the Church hasn't committed to this exact metaphysics).

Excluding supernatural effects, the form of a thing and its matter are closely linked, and it does not make sense to speak of them as existing separately or being two things put together. That is to say, the form is not a separate substance than the matter (like a ghost living in a machine) but rather the soul and body together make up one single substance. (More details here). 

Matter is potential, form is act. The two unified together make a thing. There is not matter as a substance without form, nor is there (naturally) form as a substance without matter. The two are deeply joined and form one single substance.

Grace and the soul and the body: Grace is not a property of our soul. When a king's grace grants life to a criminal condemned to death, the nature of the condemned criminal doesn't change, only his relationship with his King. That is to say, he doesn't change substantially from a "condemened person" to a "person", he's always just been a person.

In the same way, when God grants us grace, our soul is cleaned of sin but it is not substantially changed. You keep trying to make "grace", "good", and "evil" properties of a substance. It doesn't work like that.

Freedom to act: As I mentioned above, to any degree that your acts are not your own but rather forced upon you by some external cause, you are not guilty of sin. Sin is a voluntary action of the intellect and will. If they are fully disabled, then whatever someone or something else does with our body has no bearing on our own sinfulness. If you are unconscious and I use your hand to pull a trigger and kill someone, you aren't guilty of an evil act. A natural evil occurred (the death of someone else) and I am guilty of sin. It doesn't make any sense to say "Tom is an evil bastard" because I used your unconscious hand to assist me with a murder.

You can't say a man is "the most evil man on the planet" and "is heaven-bound" as you did in your first post. The two are contrary terms. The very best thing you could say is "a person could do seem to do evil acts that were not in fact evil, due to some mitigating facts or circumstances." Of course, if you said that, you could not call that man "the most evil man on the planet".

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Tom: But you can have a good and repentant soul while performing evil actions.

This is a restatement of your original proposal, and it is still wrong.

1. It is nonsense to say you have a "good soul" or "repentent soul" for the reasons outlined above. You have a human soul. It doesn't change what it is based on how you act.

2. You cannot be repentant for an evil act which you are currently performing.  Repentance can only come after an evil act. Repentance is a turning of the mind and will away from sin and back towards God. If you are currently performing an evil act (which necessarily implies you are willing that evil act) your mind and will are oriented towards that evil act. They cannot simultaneously be turned to God and towards evil.
 
« Last Edit: February 28, 2023, 01:24:25 AM by JoshuaD »

JoshuaD

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Re: A Pill for Men?
« Reply #109 on: February 28, 2023, 02:09:24 AM »
My point wasn't that science tell us that depression is bad; we assert that as an axiom. What the social sciences do is establish correlation between causes and effects. It's not so much that people are depressed, but to zero in on why they're depressed. But will you at minimum agree that when you address the issue of pharmaceutial side effects on the body this is necessarily a science issue?

Sort of. My argument on page 1 is not an "argument from science". It is, as I said, an argument from the natural consequences we can observe and experience. I think science is a subset of that category.

I will admit I was simply assuming that you do in fact agree with the quote in question. I understand why it's not always that useful to bring out such material in a casual conversation. I chose to trot it out because I was trying to establish that if you do agree with the deeper implications of what sex is, then even if all the secular arguments were answered (e.g. society is not apparently suffering, people report being happier on the pill, there are no longer medical side effects) it would still have no bearing on a Catholic stance on contraception. I wasn't saying that these other matters aren't also important.

Yes, it is safe to assume I agree with Church orthodoxy.

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JoshuaD: Do you really not understand what I wrote? If all of my views and observations and analysis regarding free sex were negated, yes, that would rock me to my core and would cause me to rethink many things, including this pill and my religious views. What's confusing about that?

Fenring: My point was that if you do agree with the "opinion of the Pope" then there could not be any conceivable empirical result that should sway your opinion on the topic, since the deeper connotations of sex cannot be found in the material. Is that a bit more clear? But it's true my remarks did rest upon the premise that I thought you agree with "the Pope" (it's not really 'the Pope', but that's a side topic).

You keep rendering what I said in my first post into some sort of exclusively materialist set of claims. Depression and loneliness are not a purely material. The scars we suffer from promiscuity are not purely material.
« Last Edit: February 28, 2023, 02:12:12 AM by JoshuaD »

JoshuaD

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Re: A Pill for Men?
« Reply #110 on: February 28, 2023, 02:24:28 AM »
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ETA - I was focused on Joshua's OP in particular because it was presented as a series of facts whose result should be a legal banning of contraceptives (or at least getting them off the market, somehow). If it had just been "I don't like X for Y reasons" then that would be different. When we're getting into the realm of asserting something as a fact that others must accept - which is what the application of law literally is - then it needs to be established whether the objections can be answered on a practical basis. But generally speaking Catholics (and other religious people) have objections to certain matters, such as abortion, which very likely no practical solution would answer.

It was none of these things. It was an analysis of the effects of this pill in the individual and in society at large. It's not a statement of preference. It's not a call to political action. My first post is an argument for why taking this pill is, generally speaking, an evil act.

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When we're getting into the realm of asserting something as a fact that others must accept - which is what the application of law literally is

 :o

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Catholics (and other religious people) have objections to certain matters, such as abortion, which very likely no practical solution would answer.

What are you talking about?  Abortion is easy question to solve: never have an abortion. Never perform an abortion. Tell your friends. Tell your family.

You seem to think if we can't impose our will on the entire world and usher in the utopia we can't "practically solve" a problem. That's absurd.

Tom

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Re: A Pill for Men?
« Reply #111 on: February 28, 2023, 08:50:36 AM »
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A person's essence is not good or evil.
A person's essence is bound for Heaven or not. I am using "good" in this case as shorthand for "technically able to access the S-tier afterlife." :)

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This is a mysterious act by God.
I'm not sure what you think you're rebutting here. I certainly haven't intended to suggest that Catholics believe the essence of something goes around changing all the time.

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Extending this supernatural phenomenon to speak generally about the natural world is not reasonable.
What do you think I'm saying about the natural world?

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You keep trying to make "grace", "good", and "evil" properties of a substance. It doesn't work like that.
No. You have confused me with a Greek philosopher. I don't give a crap about "properties," as I've believed we've previously established. And I especially don't care what the Greeks thought about substance duality; I think they were so far off-base on that one that it's not possible to see the base from where they're standing.

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The very best thing you could say is "a person could do seem to do evil acts that were not in fact evil, due to some mitigating facts or circumstances." Of course, if you said that, you could not call that man "the most evil man on the planet".
No. I can say "this person DID evil acts, but their soul's intention was not to do evil." That is in fact what I'm saying (or, more precisely, what I'm asserting is the official Catholic doctrine on this point. My own position is, of course, that there's no such thing as "soul.")

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If you are currently performing an evil act (which necessarily implies you are willing that evil act)...
This is the central problem with your heresy: namely, that you're assuming that the conscious will implies the soul's intention. As I've said before, the Council of Vienna specifically rejected this approach.
« Last Edit: February 28, 2023, 08:54:54 AM by Tom »

Fenring

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Re: A Pill for Men?
« Reply #112 on: March 02, 2023, 01:33:00 PM »
Yes, it is safe to assume I agree with Church orthodoxy.

Ok, thanks for that clarification.

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You keep rendering what I said in my first post into some sort of exclusively materialist set of claims. Depression and loneliness are not a purely material. The scars we suffer from promiscuity are not purely material.

I don't think I'm rendering your claims into materialism. I would tend to agree with you that certain pains are not only material. The trouble is that you can find plenty of people who do the behaviors you/we say leave scars who do not show any outward signs of depression or loneliness by standard metrics. Otherwise you would have to argue that literally everyone who engages in sex outside of marriage and/or uses contraception within marriage is ipso facto depressed or lonely, which seems like it would be trivially false. And if some people who have casual sex are depressed, while others aren't, it seems like you have a difficulty establishing causality. That's why at best I would think you'd have to look for correlation, since the causality will never be 1:1. But confirming correlation requires quantitative study, no? And that's why I was focusing on the material: if you say X creates a scar, but someone who does X doesn't have any visible material scar, how can you confirm that they really have that scar? In other words, if you can't assess or prove the state of someone's soul, their material well-being might be the first reasonable thing to look at in consquence to their actions. As you mentioned to Tom, these ought to be linked, however, so it should be striking when something that in theory causes damage to someone's state of grace doesn't at first glance seem to be reflected in their outward happiness.

Fenring

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Re: A Pill for Men?
« Reply #113 on: March 02, 2023, 01:41:46 PM »
It was none of these things. It was an analysis of the effects of this pill in the individual and in society at large. It's not a statement of preference. It's not a call to political action. My first post is an argument for why taking this pill is, generally speaking, an evil act.

When you said we should get the pill off the market, you meant that it would be nice if everyone agreed it would be evil? I originally took it to mean that it should be removed from availability even if many people disagree with you and still want it.

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What are you talking about?  Abortion is easy question to solve: never have an abortion. Never perform an abortion. Tell your friends. Tell your family.

You seem to think if we can't impose our will on the entire world and usher in the utopia we can't "practically solve" a problem. That's absurd.

What I was saying is that there's no practical solution in the manner of engaging in abortions which both sides would see as a reasonable compromise. There are other moral areas, however, in which practical solutions could in fact answer current objections. Just as an example, the Pope has make remarks about economic inequality and how it's the obligation of all peoples to correct the excesses in this (I'm very loosely paraphrasing); but even though this objection is a moral issue a simple economic change of policy could well answer it and leave the matter in satisfactory condition. The change would be regarding how to engage in economic policy, not whether to engage in it. Contrast with abortion, where the how of it isn't relevant for most who are anti-abortion. In your objections to the pill, it seems that some (such as side effects) could be answered by technological updates while others not.

Fenring

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Re: A Pill for Men?
« Reply #114 on: March 02, 2023, 02:50:28 PM »
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The very best thing you could say is "a person could do seem to do evil acts that were not in fact evil, due to some mitigating facts or circumstances." Of course, if you said that, you could not call that man "the most evil man on the planet".
No. I can say "this person DID evil acts, but their soul's intention was not to do evil." That is in fact what I'm saying (or, more precisely, what I'm asserting is the official Catholic doctrine on this point. My own position is, of course, that there's no such thing as "soul.")

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If you are currently performing an evil act (which necessarily implies you are willing that evil act)...
This is the central problem with your heresy: namely, that you're assuming that the conscious will implies the soul's intention. As I've said before, the Council of Vienna specifically rejected this approach.

Just to piggyback on this point, what willing means is very important. Everything you do that is not purely an accident is 'willed' in some loose way, but not equally. Being enthralled in addiction and taking a hit is not the same kind of willing as being clear-headed and making a calculated choice. And Catholic doctrine, while not making final pronouncements on this, seems to acknowledge that there are degrees of mental incapacitation which (we hope) mitigate how much you're responsible. Being intoxicated could perhaps be one, but a much more clear-cut case would be someone born with a chemical imbalance, or who suffers a serious injury that alters their personality or self-control. Such people are clearly not willing their negative actions in the same way a luckier person is. You could imagine a rabid dog as another type of example (Cujo comes to mind, who, King reminds us after his savagery, had always tried to be a good dog prior to being infected). A famous literary example of the act being divorced from the intention is in Lord of the Rings, where Frodo finally cracks under the pressure at Mount Doom and declares that the ring is his. However in lieu of this being a calculated turn to evil, or an evil act that 'destroys grace', Tolkien wants us to understand that his limited strength simily ran out after he did the best he could. Afterward, rather than having to repent his evil action, he is rather already in a saintly disposition. The idea is that it's not so much about what the action is, but whether you tried your hardest to avoid it. Some pressures are literally too much to resist, and failing is not the same as willing evil. This is why any act cannot be understood in a moral vacuum, which we can't assess on a final basis because we don't know the person's heart (i.e. how hard they tried and what difficulties over and above the normal they were faced with).

JoshuaD

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Re: A Pill for Men?
« Reply #115 on: March 03, 2023, 02:01:37 AM »
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Tom: You can be the rudest, most evil bastard on the face of the planet due to some chemical imbalance like alcoholism, and you could still be Heaven-bound because your soul has accepted salvation.

The original sentence you wrote, quoted again above, is not an accurate representation of Catholic doctrine. It is not accurate to say someone is simultaneously evil and heaven-bound.

As I said: a person might have committed apparently evil acts but those acts did not constitute a moral evil because of some mitigating circumstances (like a 3 year old accidentally shooting his father with a gun, or someone sleepwalking and stealing). In those cases, it wouldn't be accurate to call those acts morally evil, and it certainly wouldn't be accurate to call that person "[an] evil bastard".

The question of to what degree someone bears moral responsibility for some particular act can get very convoluted, but it doesn't matter.  If you are the "the most evil bastard on the face of the planet" today, you are guilty of mortal sin. If you are guilty of mortal sin, you are not heaven-bound. Mortal sin destroys sanctifying grace, breaks your relationship with God, and therefore orients your soul away from God and towards hell. That person may very well find repentance before they die, changing the orientation of their soul. Of course that doesn't mean that they were always "heaven bound". They were hell-bound, they repented, and became heaven bound.

I won't talk about predestination here because you specifically excluded it earlier, but suffice to say nothing in that doctrine contradicts what I've said here.

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Tom: No. You have confused me with a Greek philosopher. I don't give a crap about "properties," as I've believed we've previously established.

I know you don't, and it doesn't matter. Catholics do care about these things. If you want to accurately represent Catholic views, you need to do so fully, which includes accounting for a Catholic metaphysics.

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Josh:The very best thing you could say is "a person could do seem to do evil acts that were not in fact evil, due to some mitigating facts or circumstances." Of course, if you said that, you could not call that man "the most evil man on the planet".

Tom: No. I can say "this person DID evil acts, but their soul's intention was not to do evil." That is in fact what I'm saying (or, more precisely, what I'm asserting is the official Catholic doctrine on this point...)

I've answered this point multiple times, which you haven't responded to:

1. Intention is only one part of the three-pronged test for whether an act is evil. In addition to intention being good, the object and the circumstances must also be good. Walter White killed Krazy8 with the intention of protecting his family. He didn't intend evil, he intended good. But the object of his act was not good, so his act was still evil.

2. For an act to be evil, it must be the act of the will. A dog isn't capable of an evil act, nor is an unconscious man. There's no such thing as Schrödinger's act, which is simultaneously evil and not evil in the same respect.

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Tom: This is the central problem with your heresy: namely, that you're assuming that the conscious will implies the soul's intention. As I've said before, the Council of Vienna specifically rejected this approach.

There was no Council of Vienna, I'm assuming you mean the Council of Vienne. That being said, I'm not familiar with the thing you're referencing from that Council. A lot of things happened there: they disbanded the knights templar, seized their lands, banned clerical marriages, declared the Beguines and Behards as heretics, and so on. Can you quote it and/or link to the specific thing you're referencing?   

JoshuaD

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Re: A Pill for Men?
« Reply #116 on: March 03, 2023, 02:18:13 AM »
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JoshuaD: We should get that off the market immediately, not double down with a male birth control pill
...

JoshuaD: It was none of these things. It was an analysis of the effects of this pill in the individual and in society at large. It's not a statement of preference. It's not a call to political action. My first post is an argument for why taking this pill is, generally speaking, an evil act.

Fenring: When you said we should get the pill off the market, you meant that it would be nice if everyone agreed it would be evil? I originally took it to mean that it should be removed from availability even if many people disagree with you and still want it.

Sorry, I forgot writing that one sentence in this sea of sentences. It wasn't central to my analysis of some of the consequences of these pills and their related ideas, but yes, I would like for COCPs and this new pill to be largely taken off the market. There may be serious health issues legitimately addressed by COCPs that are grave enough to justify the secondary consequence of sterility, but they should be prescribed or distributed or taken with the intent of causing sterility. If tomorrow congress banned COCPs I would support that law against the will of whatever percentage of the population cried against it. I'm also not out with lawn signs advocating for that law. My political activity is largely limited to talking to friends. 

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Fenring: What I was saying is that there's no practical solution in the manner of engaging in abortions which both sides would see as a reasonable compromise.

Yeah, some people want to kill babies and other people don't want babies to get killed. Of course there's not going to be a "reasonable compromise". That doesn't mean there's "no practical solution". At most, you could say "there's no political solution".

JoshuaD

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Re: A Pill for Men?
« Reply #117 on: March 03, 2023, 02:32:50 AM »
^ "but they should not be prescribed or distributed or taken with the intent of causing sterility."

Tom

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Re: A Pill for Men?
« Reply #118 on: March 03, 2023, 09:04:11 AM »
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It is not accurate to say someone is simultaneously evil and heaven-bound.
Fair enough. You can openly behave in every way as if you were the rudest, most evil person on the face of the Earth, but might still be Heaven-bound. Please cut me a little semantic slack, as you understand that from my own perspective there is no distinction between these cases.

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For an act to be evil, it must be the act of the will.
Hm. I'd like to investigate this. If you buy the last loaf of bread from a store during a hurricane and, as a direct result, a family who came to the store looking for food leaves without any and subsequently starves, did you commit evil? What if you saw them looking for bread and leaving empty-handed, but had ten "extra" loaves in your cart just in case the storm cut off the supply chain longer than you expected? The reason I ask is that I can actually imagine a number of scenarios where an evil act can be performed without any evil intent.

JoshuaD

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Re: A Pill for Men?
« Reply #119 on: March 04, 2023, 05:32:03 PM »
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Tom:You can be the rudest, most evil bastard on the face of the planet due to some chemical imbalance like alcoholism, and you could still be Heaven-bound because your soul has accepted salvation.

Josh: It is not accurate to say someone is simultaneously evil and heaven-bound.

Tom: Fair enough. You can openly behave in every way as if you were the rudest, most evil person on the face of the Earth, but might still be Heaven-bound. Please cut me a little semantic slack, as you understand that from my own perspective there is no distinction between these cases.

There isn't just the semantics problem. The Church talks about all sorts of ways a person might not be fully guilty of their sins due to mitigating circumstances, but (even putting aside the issue you acknowledged) none of those things seem to glue to the sentence you wrote. Alcoholism isn't a "get out of jail free card" as long as you say "Jesus is King".  It is the case that we can't know with certainty whether any soul of any living person will go to heaven or hell (not even our own) but that doesn't mean that the outward appearances have no relationship to that reality.

What scenario exactly are you imagining? Paint me a picture.

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Tom:Hm. I'd like to investigate this. If you buy the last loaf of bread from a store during a hurricane and, as a direct result, a family who came to the store looking for food leaves without any and subsequently starves, did you commit evil? What if you saw them looking for bread and leaving empty-handed, but had ten "extra" loaves in your cart just in case the storm cut off the supply chain longer than you expected? The reason I ask is that I can actually imagine a number of scenarios where an evil act can be performed without any evil intent.

There are a few principles at play:

1. We aren't morally responsible for every consequence that arises from our acts. If I step on a leaf, which causes a butterfly to land in a different spot to get food, and then 300 years from now the American government collapses, that's not on me. We have a responsibility to not be careless and use our prudence well, but often times natural evils will arise as an indirect result of our actions and that does not make us morally culpable.

2. In order for an act to be moral, it must pass three tests: the object must not be evil, the intention must not be evil, and the circumstances must not be evil. In this framework, object is the good thing being done, intention is the good you intend as you perform the act, and the circumstances are all of the secondary elements of the moral act including the consequences. None of these three can be evil. If any one of these three is evil, the act is evil.

3. When we are performing an act, we also have a responsibility to be aware of secondary consequences of that act. If negative consequences will arise from an act that would otherwise be permissible, the doctrine of double effect comes into consideration:
a. Our original act must not be evil.
b. We cannot will the negative side effect intentionally but we can permit it.
c. The good effect must be caused by the act at least as immediately (in terms of causation, not necessarily in time) as the bad effect.
d. The good effect must be sufficiently desirable to compensate for the undesired and unintended negative consequence.

Based on that framework, we can look at the questions you asked:

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Tom:If you buy the last loaf of bread from a store during a hurricane and, as a direct result, a family who came to the store looking for food leaves without any and subsequently starves, did you commit evil?

No. The object is to buy bread, the intention is to feed your family so they don't starve, and the circumstances (while unfortunate) do not change the act to an evil act; it's not generally reasonable to expect that by buying a loaf of bread you'll cause someone else to starve to death.

As you indicated, you can change the parameters of the question in a bunch of ways such that the act becomes immoral. For example, if you're buying your 100th loaf of bread with the knowledge that the rest of the town is starving, that could make it an evil thing.

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Tom: The reason I ask is that I can actually imagine a number of scenarios where an evil act can be performed without any evil intent.

Yes absolutely. Congratulations, you're a Catholic now.  ;)

« Last Edit: March 04, 2023, 05:35:16 PM by JoshuaD »

Fenring

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Re: A Pill for Men?
« Reply #120 on: March 04, 2023, 05:45:48 PM »
Tom, I largely agree with Joshua's reading of this situation and his general answer to your questions. One thing to bear in mind is that individuals can't be held responsible for being thrust into a toxic environment which creates zero-sum scenarios. This becomes especially complicated when "being thrust" is exchanged for "being born", since societies themselves have many toxic and zero-sum elements. To some extent this is inevitable, and I somewhat agree with right-wing philosophers who argue that you cannot get rid of this (and that therefore utopias are impossible). The mitigating issue is to what extent the individual has a responsibility to be aware of which elements in their society are toxic, and to (a) try to mitigate them, or (b) to actively try to change them. I personally have the natural gut inclination to expect the level of active responsibility people should have is much more than most are willing to own, although there are some downsides to seeing the onus as being on everyone no matter what they think (one of which is being to hard on everyone, including oneself). The flipside feels horrendous, which is to treat all of society like some bureaucracy that no one will take responsibility for no matter what happens. Your hurricane scenario is actually mired by present-day commercial details, like for instance that you can't negotiate at a cash register or offer to buy half the loaf (except in upscale bakeries). Naturally you could just tailor any scenario down to "you choose whether your family dies or another one dies". In that circumstance you need some serious metaphysics in place to make a case for choosing your own.

Tom

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Re: A Pill for Men?
« Reply #121 on: March 04, 2023, 09:54:35 PM »
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Tom, I largely agree with Joshua's reading of this situation and his general answer to your questions.
While I'm sympathetic, I find that conclusion unsatisfying -- mainly because I believe most evil committed is not actually intentional evil.

JoshuaD

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Re: A Pill for Men?
« Reply #122 on: March 04, 2023, 11:27:35 PM »
I'm very confused. We agree on that point and I've outlined exactly that.  Aquinas, who I agree with, argues that we aren't even able to choose evil for evil's sake. He argues the will is an appetite for the good, so if we do evil, what we've done is oriented the will towards a lesser good.

Fenring

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Re: A Pill for Men?
« Reply #123 on: March 05, 2023, 12:17:09 AM »
While I'm sympathetic, I find that conclusion unsatisfying -- mainly because I believe most evil committed is not actually intentional evil.

I think "evil" needs to be defined. Aquinas, for instance, seems to be coming from an Aristotelian perspective, and argues analogously to the Socratic notion that bad choices are caused by error. In this case, an error of having an improper hierarchy of goods, and focusing one's will on something other than the highest good. Aquinas also argues that 'evil' is not actually a thing, but rather is merely the absence of the good, the worst evil being the absence of the highest good. However I personally disagree that evil cannot be chosen for its own sake. Also, "intentional evil" can mean many things. Even if you question an average modern person who's decently honest about appraising their own actions, they will admit without too much trouble that they did X, Y, or Z and that it really wasn't good that they did so. If you ask again why they did so they may say "well I was angry and wanted to cause some pain" or "I was too ashamed to admit I was wrong." These are, in an everyday kind of way, intentionally wrong acts. You might call them intentionally evil if you define evil as failing to aspire to the highest good, or even just 'not acting decently'. Now if we restrict ourselves to mass murder, chemical warfare, and things like that, then it gets complicated because you need a moral accounting of self-defense, war, preemptive strikes, and so forth. I personally don't really buy most explanations that "deep down everyone thinks they're the good guy." I do think most people consider themselves to be the protagonist of the story, the most important. If you use a moral relativism framework and argue that people who do evil things may legitimately think that e.g. amoral self-aggrandizement is 'good', I would simply argue that this is redefining the word good in order to allow word games. This would in fact be equivalent to saying there is no such thing as good - that all acts are morally arbitrary. But it's not like those people don't know what the Judeo-Christian moral framework says is evil, they just view it as a sucker's game. So it's quite intentional, it's just they reject that there is morality. I won't get into this other rabbit hole, but further to this point I think there are many things people do because they are wrong/bad/evil, for various reasons, including the thrill of transgression.

The issue about contraception, and why it's a tricky one, is that it seems to me plenty of conscientious and well-intentioned people can find no strong objection to it, and without playing any word games could find no reason why they would be at fault for using a condom or the pill. This would mean that hoards of people, en masse, are missing something obvious. It's also perplexing that this logical error is to be found neatly among people who don't subscribe to religious dicta. I personally feel that if there are secular reasons why it's quite harmful, they are more subtle than in subjects such as having a ton of one night stands, which most people agree is not good for you. I can glibly point out the conflict of interest, i.e. that someone agreeing that it's bad for them would be signing away the carte blanche to have sex freely, and yet this alone doesn't prove that it is bad for them. It probably does prove they have a vested interest in rejecting any argument against it out of hand, but doesn't automatically imply more.

« Last Edit: March 05, 2023, 12:24:53 AM by Fenring »

LetterRip

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Re: A Pill for Men?
« Reply #124 on: March 05, 2023, 12:33:02 AM »
I'm very confused. We agree on that point and I've outlined exactly that.  Aquinas, who I agree with, argues that we aren't even able to choose evil for evil's sake. He argues the will is an appetite for the good, so if we do evil, what we've done is oriented the will towards a lesser good.

We know that sadistic psychopaths exist.  They enjoy evil for evils sake.

JoshuaD

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Re: A Pill for Men?
« Reply #125 on: March 05, 2023, 12:51:13 AM »
I'm very confused. We agree on that point and I've outlined exactly that.  Aquinas, who I agree with, argues that we aren't even able to choose evil for evil's sake. He argues the will is an appetite for the good, so if we do evil, what we've done is oriented the will towards a lesser good.

We know that sadistic psychopaths exist.  They enjoy evil for evils sake.

I don't think so. I think the thing they are pursuing is their own enjoyment, which is something that their will views as good. "If I do this sadistic thing, it will feel good, it will make me feeling stronger, etc."  It's really hard to imagine doing something evil without finding some good reason to do it.

This isn't a necessary belief for Catholics. Some Catholics hold the other view, which you also seem to share. I didn't bring the point up to send us down a big tangent, but rather to illustrate to Tom that _of course_ evil acts can be committed without the actor intending evil.

Tom

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Re: A Pill for Men?
« Reply #126 on: March 05, 2023, 10:29:38 AM »
I do, for what it's worth, believe that people exist who are sufficiently able to discern the differences between the satisfaction derived from fulfilling their own desires and "good," or are able to recognize that fulfilling their own desires causes enough harm for that fulfillment to be considered "evil" -- and yet some of those people will still choose to do something they recognize as evil instead.

Evil is not, in my definition, merely synonymous with harm, or even net harm.

----------

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I didn't bring the point up to send us down a big tangent, but rather to illustrate to Tom that _of course_ evil acts can be committed without the actor intending evil.
I know you said you weren't particularly interested in semantics, but I am often (if not always) interested in semantics, and wanted to point out that I did not need this illustrated to me. In fact, this entire particular tangent happened because you said, quite bluntly, that evil had to be intended by the will, and I pushed back on it. Your subsequent elaborations were absolutely sufficient for me to conclude that our POV on this almost but not entirely aligns. But I feel an admittedly prideful need to point out that you are not, by elaborating on your initially over-simplified statement, illustrating some aspect of reality that I was missing, here. :)
« Last Edit: March 05, 2023, 10:34:20 AM by Tom »

Fenring

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Re: A Pill for Men?
« Reply #127 on: March 05, 2023, 01:09:03 PM »
Evil is not, in my definition, merely synonymous with harm, or even net harm.

To the extent that a significant amount of harm is inevitable, and certainly unintentional, this would make sense. And further, as Nietzsche pointed out, for every deed there isn't a doer; so even if evil results befall on people it didn't imply that someone did them and is responsible.

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In fact, this entire particular tangent happened because you said, quite bluntly, that evil had to be intended by the will, and I pushed back on it.

FWIW Joshua's post from Mar 4 at 5:32 pm specifies that for an act to be moral it requires passing the three tests, failure of any of which could or would result in it not being moral. But as you are interested in semantics, we mustn't get confused between moral/immoral, good/evil, and licit/illicit. For a Catholic sometimes these matters depend on whether you're Catholic or not, and there are other gradations even beyond that. In Joshua's schema "moral" appears to mean licit, meaning it's ok to do the thing if it passes these tests. But that does not actually mean it's moral in the sense of being a good act; it can be neutral for instance. It can even cause harms of various kinds. This line delineates the sphere of 'neutral or better actions' but does not exactly speak to what constitutes an evil or good act. My personally preference would turn the tables on the concern about exactly which acts are intentionally versus unintentionally evil, and to focus on how to do good things; because while the nature of bad acts (which may include causing harm) is a complex subject from which we can scarcely escape, it is good acts that in fact do require a positive act of will. So the real trouble is that you can't accidentally do good, but must do so intentionally out of the correct motivation and circumstances. A person who is living a life devoid of any extraordinary harms, but also not reaching for the good, is actually not doing good. Being 'a good person' as some kind of default status is not a thing in the Catholic moral landscape. And the striking claim is that if you are not actively striving to do good things, then you are on the wrong side of things. There is not really a 'neutral' in this landscape, which runs quite contrary to the secular conception of an unassuming, inoffensive, and even friendly person, as being considered as being 'decent' or 'ok' by default. Moral realism requires not only a definition of 'good' but in fact an orientation toward particular goals toward which the good works. As Joshua put it, bowing down before a lesser good can actually be very destructive, despite on an everyday basis often looking like 'ok' behavior. So contrary to your contention that a real SOB might actually be heaven-bound, the greater concern IMO is that people who you perceive as darlings may in fact be in the reverse orientation. 
« Last Edit: March 05, 2023, 01:11:56 PM by Fenring »

JoshuaD

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Re: A Pill for Men?
« Reply #128 on: March 05, 2023, 03:38:18 PM »
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Tom:  I do, for what it's worth, believe that people exist who are sufficiently able to discern the differences between the satisfaction derived from fulfilling their own desires and "good," or are able to recognize that fulfilling their own desires causes enough harm for that fulfillment to be considered "evil" -- and yet some of those people will still choose to do something they recognize as evil instead.

Yes, we agree on this point. It is not contradicting what I said above.

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Tom: Evil is not, in my definition, merely synonymous with harm, or even net harm.

You don't believe in objective good and evil, right? As I understand it, there's "What Tom says is undesirable".

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Josh: I didn't bring the point up to send us down a big tangent, but rather to illustrate to Tom that _of course_ evil acts can be committed without the actor intending evil.

Tom: I know you said you weren't particularly interested in semantics.

I didn't say this. What?

I said that your original post failed for a handful of reasons. One of which you ultimately acknowledged and characterized as a semantic distinction, which I didn't object to. The others you have yet to respond to.

I have no problem with semantics. They're important. It's both important to use language clearly, and to be charitable in how we understand one another and not confuse a semantic argument with a substantive argument. 

As I said, my objection to your statement is substantive. I ask again: can you paint me a picture of the man you are imagining, who is "the most evil bastard on earth" but also bound for heaven?

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Tom: In fact, this entire particular tangent happened because you said, quite bluntly, that evil had to be intended by the will, and I pushed back on it. Your subsequent elaborations were absolutely sufficient for me to conclude that our POV on this almost but not entirely aligns. But I feel an admittedly prideful need to point out that you are not, by elaborating on your initially over-simplified statement, illustrating some aspect of reality that I was missing, here. :)

You aren't accurately recalling or recounting what I said. I will say it again:

1. In order for an act to have moral content, the act (or failure to act) must be intentional. I am not saying that we must intend evil to do an evil act. I am saying that the act must be done intentionally. Putting aside carelessness (which has a sort of intention of its own) we are not generally not morally culpable for acts that we don't intend.

2. My original statement wasn't over-simplified. It is an essential idea: sinfulness separates us from God.

3. Sorry if I stepped on your foot at all, I didn't intend that. I don't expect you to know Catholic ideas nor do I expect you to always agree with them. To the contrary, I'm pleasantly surprised that you seem to agree with many of these principles, and I'd be happy to continue to talk about places where we disagree.

4. The main thing I was pushing back against was your incorrect explanation of Catholic teachings.

Tom

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Re: A Pill for Men?
« Reply #129 on: March 06, 2023, 12:34:22 PM »
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You don't believe in objective good and evil, right?
I wouldn't say that. I believe that certain actions can be determined to be objectively evil based on an agreed-upon definition of evil. What I don't believe is that a moral arbiter exists that can classify actions as "good" or "evil" based on their own authoritative criteria.

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I ask again: can you paint me a picture of the man you are imagining, who is "the most evil bastard on earth" but also bound for heaven?
Without being cute about this, I want to observe that I am not an authority on the Heaven-bound. In fact, I'm pretty sure that part of the point of this whole doctrine is to make it clear to Catholics that speculating on the status of anyone's soul is a fruitless endeavor.
« Last Edit: March 06, 2023, 12:38:00 PM by Tom »

Fenring

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Re: A Pill for Men?
« Reply #130 on: March 06, 2023, 02:56:09 PM »
I believe that certain actions can be determined to be objectively evil based on an agreed-upon definition of evil. What I don't believe is that a moral arbiter exists that can classify actions as "good" or "evil" based on their own authoritative criteria.

What do you think of the Sam Harris type approach where he outlines the idea that science/empirical study can determine an objective good/bad rating for individual actions, but that this doesn't map across all people since their situations are different? In this case something could be objectively good for me and bad for you, but in both cases the arbiter isn't a social convention but some physical reality that we must discover.

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I'm pretty sure that part of the point of this whole doctrine is to make it clear to Catholics that speculating on the status of anyone's soul is a fruitless endeavor.

I personally don't think this is quite right, but maybe it's semantics again. I think the idea is more that we can't know all the details of a person's life, their heart, their efforts, and how these are received by others/God. But we can make positive statements about the direction their soul is headed based on current choices. So while it would be impossible to say "you are at level 97 of bad with God", it is entirely possible to say "you are headed in the wrong direction". It is also not too much of a stretch to say "you seem to be in some trouble right now" even though it can't be quantified. You can think of it like a business loan (as there is so much financial analogy used in the NT): maybe you can't tell someone "you will go bankrupt" but you can observe negative cash flows, even something that looks perilously close to insolvency. But you never know, maybe the creditor will forgive the loan tomorrow, maybe things will continue in the bad direction. Maybe you'll win the lottery and suddenly find yourself out of debt and even in the black. That's what we can't say much about. But it's not quite outside of human judgement to make a general 'business assessment'.

JoshuaD

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Re: A Pill for Men?
« Reply #131 on: March 06, 2023, 11:49:05 PM »
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Josh: You don't believe in objective good and evil, right?
Tom: I wouldn't say that. I believe that certain actions can be determined to be objectively evil based on an agreed-upon definition of evil. What I don't believe is that a moral arbiter exists that can classify actions as "good" or "evil" based on their own authoritative criteria.

If tomorrow the entire world population decided that cannibalism and chattel slavery is a morally good, and you and I disagreed with the entire world, who would be right? If you say that cannibalism and chattel slavery are evil regardless of what everyone thinks, what reality are you appealing to when you say that?

It seems that the metric you offered -- "an agreed-upon definition of evil" -- either has to permit that moral horrors are acceptable as long as a lot (?) of people agree that they're good, or it has to say no, regardless of what people think, cannibalism is evil.

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Josh: I ask again: can you paint me a picture of the man you are imagining, who is "the most evil bastard on earth" but also bound for heaven?

Tom: Without being cute about this, I want to observe that I am not an authority on the Heaven-bound. In fact, I'm pretty sure that part of the point of this whole doctrine is to make it clear to Catholics that speculating on the status of anyone's soul is a fruitless endeavor.

Yeah. This is mostly right. We can't know for sure that someone is in hell, but we can know for sure some people are in heaven. That is what canonization is. When the Church declares someone is a saint, she declares that that person is in heaven.

The Church has never declared that anyone is certainly in hell, not even Judas. Some respected Catholics, like Bishop Barron say it is reasonable to hope that all people are saved and that hell is empty. 

Fenring

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Re: A Pill for Men?
« Reply #132 on: March 07, 2023, 12:15:30 AM »
I ask again: can you paint me a picture of the man you are imagining, who is "the most evil bastard on earth" but also bound for heaven?

I think I would like to take a stab at this one, as I think I can see was Tom was initially suggesting with it. Or at least, what the Catholic belief is that he was trying to describe. Although, I don't think he was saying that someone can simultaneously be evil or be doing tons of evil, but somehow be bound for heaven illogically.

I think the reality of "evil bastard going to heaven" is a bit more inscrutable than how it sounds on paper. This type of character isn't actually too foreign for us, the type who appears to be everything we don't like, who cannot possibly be helping or making the world better...until they do. This characterization is actually an often-used trope film and TV, most commonly in a war setting. You have the character who acts like a bully, gives no quarter or mercy to anyone, attacks those who are weaker and terrorizes them, is generally a jerk, has base manners, and is usually ugly too. He (usually a man) is the enemy in the early story. This jerk goes through the film being the bane of everyone's existence, until deep into the plot something truly horrible and far worse than a mere jerk comes along (the space alien, the Nazis, etc) and at the moment of the greatest crisis the enemy from the start of the film is the one so fearless and full of guts that he is standing between the real enemy and our heroes, taking no flack from anyone from any species. All of his vices are transmuted into virtues: his unreasonable nature causes him to stand before mortal danger without flinching; his immovable nature means he won't deviate from his mission; his spite for that which stands in his way is aimed fully at that which is truly evil. He doesn't actually change, but the situation does, and we do: we realize that all the things we hated about him were actually weapons that could and would be used to save the others. But until they were virtues they were shameful strikes against his character. Part of the 'rue and pity' we feel is because we wished he would go away, and now realize we should be thankful he stayed. And I think this is part of the indecision that exists regarding the 'state of someone's soul'. It's not just that we can't know what God has to say about it, but that we don't know how the story ends. Until it does, things that seem awful may somehow not be; or even if they are awful they may be redeemed in some way and turned to good. A mere observation of the person in question at some arbitrary stage of their life would tell us nothing about the beginning, middle, and end of that story. I don't think we need a religious framework at all to be able to see how incautious it would be to judge a person's life based on not only the present but also just a tiny bit of information about the present.

So the archetypical character here would be "the most evil bastard on Earth" in a snapshot only. Obviously if you zoom out to the maximal vantage point and see everything then it would simply be a contradiction for someone to be the worst and yet somehow be in accord with the greatest good. That's just A = not-A.
« Last Edit: March 07, 2023, 12:19:13 AM by Fenring »

jc44

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Re: A Pill for Men?
« Reply #133 on: March 07, 2023, 04:55:29 AM »
I don't see how it is possible to define Evil as something other than "what most people agree is evil" if you want a constant definition - the only other definitions are "what I think is Evil" and its close cousin "what I've been told is Evil". I'd be fascinated by an objective definition of Evil. (To be fair that may have turned up in the "Existence of God" thread and I missed it - if so sorry.)

Just for my personal satisfaction, given that you cited slavery & cannibalism as obvious Evils could you give me chapter & verse refences in the Bible for where they are prohibited - Old Testament preferred as if they are clear Evils they shouldn't need Jesus to refine the laws to include them. I'm being literal with cannibalism here - I'm talking about eating the flesh of humans not killing people for food so it isn't covered by "though shalt not kill" - people who fell off a cliff and died would be fair game.

Fenring

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Re: A Pill for Men?
« Reply #134 on: March 07, 2023, 08:43:59 AM »
I don't see how it is possible to define Evil as something other than "what most people agree is evil" if you want a constant definition - the only other definitions are "what I think is Evil" and its close cousin "what I've been told is Evil". I'd be fascinated by an objective definition of Evil. (To be fair that may have turned up in the "Existence of God" thread and I missed it - if so sorry.)

It is very easy to imagine an objective definition. It would involve morality being part of the fabric of the universe, either by design or by chance. It would be a fact to be discovered or taught, rather than a convention. As far as what that definition would be, moral realism perhaps allows for different versions, but the obvious one would be "that which damages you and prevents you achieving your best purpose." Naturally that begs the question of whether anyone can have a purpose. Even non-religious people tend to think they can.

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Just for my personal satisfaction, given that you cited slavery & cannibalism as obvious Evils could you give me chapter & verse refences in the Bible for where they are prohibited - Old Testament preferred as if they are clear Evils they shouldn't need Jesus to refine the laws to include them. I'm being literal with cannibalism here - I'm talking about eating the flesh of humans not killing people for food so it isn't covered by "though shalt not kill" - people who fell off a cliff and died would be fair game.

The written law of the OT is not the entire law. In fact it's probably the lesser part of it. The rest is contained in the oral law.

Tom

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Re: A Pill for Men?
« Reply #135 on: March 07, 2023, 10:52:41 AM »
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If you say that cannibalism and chattel slavery are evil regardless of what everyone thinks, what reality are you appealing to when you say that?
It's difficult for me to parse this question because I'm not sure what you mean by an appeal to reality. Is that just the same thing as a reason? Like, there are some pretty compelling arguments for why chattel slavery is bad (obviously depending on your definition of "bad"), and less compelling ones for why cannibalism is bad, but I'm not sure they require any specific "appeal to reality" beyond logic attached to the typical asserted low-cost premises.

---------------

jc44, I think objective morality is very easy to establish, but moving it outside the realm of tautology becomes more complicated very quickly. If we accept the classic axiom that "harm is bad," it is extremely easy to logically assert that we have a moral responsibility to do as little unnecessary harm as possible. Unfortunately, from here, the conversation quickly devolves into what constitutes harm, what constitutes necessity, and whether net harm (or any assertion of intrinsic positive good) makes moral sense. So while "we should try to be nice to each other" is, in broad strokes, something that we can be pretty objective about, we wind up in the weeds almost immediately thereafter.

---------------

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I think I would like to take a stab at this one, as I think I can see was Tom was initially suggesting with it.
Unfortunately, no. I wasn't making an argument for the classic crude, bull-headed hero with a core of stubborn resilience. I was specifically addressing a Catholic dualism: namely, the idea that the physical manifestation of your existence can limit the expression of your soul to the extent that evil committed (or good not committed) by your physical body -- and "intended" by the physical manifestation of your mind, as distinct from "you" -- as a result of factors beyond your soul's control is not considered a stain on your soul. If you do evil because you want to do evil, that's going to be read as a rejection of grace -- but if you do evil because something about your brain (or whatever component is relevant) is damaged, your soul is considered capable of regret and repentance even if this does not and cannot manifest itself in your behavior.

« Last Edit: March 07, 2023, 11:01:44 AM by Tom »

Fenring

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Re: A Pill for Men?
« Reply #136 on: March 07, 2023, 04:09:08 PM »
Quote
I think I would like to take a stab at this one, as I think I can see was Tom was initially suggesting with it.
Unfortunately, no. I wasn't making an argument for the classic crude, bull-headed hero with a core of stubborn resilience. I was specifically addressing a Catholic dualism: namely, the idea that the physical manifestation of your existence can limit the expression of your soul to the extent that evil committed (or good not committed) by your physical body -- and "intended" by the physical manifestation of your mind, as distinct from "you" -- as a result of factors beyond your soul's control is not considered a stain on your soul. If you do evil because you want to do evil, that's going to be read as a rejection of grace -- but if you do evil because something about your brain (or whatever component is relevant) is damaged, your soul is considered capable of regret and repentance even if this does not and cannot manifest itself in your behavior.

Just to be clear, I wasn't implying that you were thinking of this type of person. I know you were describing a dualism wherein a physical constraint doesn't make you 'bad'. But I was addressing the challenge of describing a person who would fit the bill of apparently being all the worst things and yet being a hidden hero/saint. What I wrote isn't a definition, but just a satisfaction of "if any example of this could exist then the concept is valid". I used the archetype of the bull-headed last-minute-hero of something we might be able to relate to in differentiating out people who appear to be the worst bastard on Earth from how their story ends. The only catch in what you just described above would be that the end of the story occurs after their death, in the 'final judgement' which none of us can see. In my example we needn't even wait quite so long to see the redemptive moment, but there does have to be one.

JoshuaD

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Re: A Pill for Men?
« Reply #137 on: March 08, 2023, 02:50:52 AM »
I don't see how it is possible to define Evil as something other than "what most people agree is evil" if you want a constant definition - the only other definitions are "what I think is Evil" and its close cousin "what I've been told is Evil". I'd be fascinated by an objective definition of Evil.

Evil acts are those that reject God's will. Just like we use our senses and intellect to determine the laws of the physical nature, we can use those facilities to determine the moral law.

Just for my personal satisfaction, given that you cited slavery & cannibalism as obvious Evils could you give me chapter & verse refences in the Bible for where they are prohibited - Old Testament preferred as if they are clear Evils they shouldn't need Jesus to refine the laws to include them. I'm being literal with cannibalism here - I'm talking about eating the flesh of humans not killing people for food so it isn't covered by "though shalt not kill" - people who fell off a cliff and died would be fair game.

Where in the bible does it tell me that e = mc^2?  God gave us revelation in scripture and he also gave us our natural reason. It is through natural reason that I can see that chattel slavery is immoral. This view has been affirmed by the Chruch numerous time: Sublimis Deus, Bulla Cum Sicuti, Commissum Nobis, Immensa Pastorum Principis, In Plurimis and so on.

The framework in which you challenged me to respond -- citing the bible exclusively to justify any belief -- is called Sola Scriptura (scripture alone) and it is both modern and erroneous. This is a protestant view and it is rejected as heresy by Catholics. It's worth noting that the man who popularized this idea (Martin Luther) removed seven books from the bible to support his other theological beliefs. God gave us revelation through scripture and he gave us our natural reason.  Faith and reason are harmonious and mutually supportive.

----

As an aside, I brought up cannibalism as a throw-away example to question Tom's assertion that morality was a matter of popular opinion. I was talking about the simple case of capturing a person, killing them, and cooking them. I'm not trying to tangent the thread again from this already long tangent on whether eating the flesh of the already deceased is forbidden in every imaginable circumstance. In the general case, it is certainly evil.

JoshuaD

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Re: A Pill for Men?
« Reply #138 on: March 08, 2023, 02:58:46 AM »
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Josh: If you say that cannibalism and chattel slavery are evil regardless of what everyone thinks, what reality are you appealing to when you say that?
Tom: It's difficult for me to parse this question because I'm not sure what you mean by an appeal to reality. Is that just the same thing as a reason?

Yes. A reason that doesn't distill down to "this is my feeling", or "this is the general feeling people have". Science books appeal to the reality of the physical natures of things. If I say "this cup will fall if I drop it", I am making a statement about the nature of cups, matter, gravity, and so on. Similarly, when I say it is evil to murder an unborn child, I am making a statement about the nature of human acts. I'm not stating a preference or making a sociological claim. I think morality is like physics in this way. Just like there is an objective physical reality, there is objective moral reality.

I'm pretty sure you reject objective morality. In fact, I think you ultimately reject free will, which necessarily rejects the entire study of morality. When you talk about morality and free will, I think you're using those words in an equivocal way to how I use them. We say the same word but we mean entirely different things.

jc44

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Re: A Pill for Men?
« Reply #139 on: March 08, 2023, 06:27:52 AM »
It is through natural reason that I can see that chattel slavery is immoral.
So how does that differ from "Evil is what I think is evil"? Or are you suggesting that your natural reason is unarguable and infallible?

jc44

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Re: A Pill for Men?
« Reply #140 on: March 08, 2023, 06:57:09 AM »
Just for my personal satisfaction, given that you cited slavery & cannibalism as obvious Evils could you give me chapter & verse refences in the Bible for where they are prohibited - Old Testament preferred as if they are clear Evils they shouldn't need Jesus to refine the laws to include them. I'm being literal with cannibalism here - I'm talking about eating the flesh of humans not killing people for food so it isn't covered by "though shalt not kill" - people who fell off a cliff and died would be fair game.

Where in the bible does it tell me that e = mc^2?  God gave us revelation in scripture and he also gave us our natural reason. It is through natural reason that I can see that chattel slavery is immoral. This view has been affirmed by the Chruch numerous time: Sublimis Deus, Bulla Cum Sicuti, Commissum Nobis, Immensa Pastorum Principis, In Plurimis and so on.

The framework in which you challenged me to respond -- citing the bible exclusively to justify any belief -- is called Sola Scriptura (scripture alone) and it is both modern and erroneous. This is a protestant view and it is rejected as heresy by Catholics. It's worth noting that the man who popularized this idea (Martin Luther) removed seven books from the bible to support his other theological beliefs. God gave us revelation through scripture and he gave us our natural reason.  Faith and reason are harmonious and mutually supportive.
I brought up scripture in relation to slavery as slavery was certainly practiced at the time and if it was a clear Evil then then I would have expected at least a couple of words on the subject. If it is necessary to say "thou shalt not kill" (or I believe murder in more recent translations) and slavery is only one notch below that in Evil then you might have expected there to be a mention somewhere.
Having wandered through your references it is clear that Native Americans were seen as not-slaves from quite early by the Catholic church (15xx) but it takes until your last reference in 1888 for black Africans to be not-slaves. So again for something where natural reason "clearly" says this is evil it took a while for it to be actually said. As an aside I have to say that Urban VIII was an interesting character - wars, overspending and banning tobacco in holy places - in the last at least he was clearly ahead of his time!

Fenring

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Re: A Pill for Men?
« Reply #141 on: March 08, 2023, 09:44:14 AM »
Slavery in the OT is actually a bad example, for a few reasons. First of all, I suspect ancient civilizations actually needed slavery in order to function on a basic level. You can like it or not, but facts are facts. And the Mosaic law was designed not only as a moral code but as a guide to how the civilization could survive and thrive. The NT, at any rate, teaches that some of those laws were timely to that society and not meant to be kept forever. It's also worth noting that in OT times they had a jubilee every ~50 years, so that slaves were freed and debts were forgiven. This may not sound like much, but it would have at least prevented generational slavery and indebtedness, the latter of which we have yet to catch up to today.

Unfortunately, slavery can largely be tied to certain technological levels, and IMO it's no coincidence that slavery began to be abolished in nations at such a time as employee productivity was able to equal or even exceed that of slaves. I'm not a history expert, but the timing seems to coincidental to me. It's not as if people invented morality in 1800, so something else was the clincher. I'm obviously not for slavery, and in fact see many traces of it in ostensibly non-slave institutionality today; but I also don't agree with getting all high and mighty about it. A great many people would have been for it had they lived in 1200.

NobleHunter

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Re: A Pill for Men?
« Reply #142 on: March 08, 2023, 10:00:54 AM »
Unfortunately, slavery can largely be tied to certain technological levels, and IMO it's no coincidence that slavery began to be abolished in nations at such a time as employee productivity was able to equal or even exceed that of slaves. I'm not a history expert, but the timing seems to coincidental to me. It's not as if people invented morality in 1800, so something else was the clincher. I'm obviously not for slavery, and in fact see many traces of it in ostensibly non-slave institutionality today; but I also don't agree with getting all high and mighty about it. A great many people would have been for it had they lived in 1200.

Your argument suffers from the fact that slavery was (more or less) abolished in Europe as technology became less available due to the collapse of the Western Empire. Slavery is convenient for certain societies and cultures but I don't think it's necessary or required for any of them.

ETA: Most everyone in Europe would have been against it in 1200. There is no (or almost no) continuity between slavery in antiquity and slavery of early modern Europe.
« Last Edit: March 08, 2023, 10:03:08 AM by NobleHunter »

Fenring

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Re: A Pill for Men?
« Reply #143 on: March 08, 2023, 10:11:41 AM »
My point wasn't to support slavery, but rather to suggest that as a moral imperative it's not as clear-cut as, say, not doing murder or stealing, which would have been self-evident to anyone even in antiquity. Don't forget my remark is in context of asking why the OT doesn't condemn it.

Tom

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Re: A Pill for Men?
« Reply #144 on: March 08, 2023, 10:16:17 AM »
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I'm pretty sure you reject objective morality. In fact, I think you ultimately reject free will, which necessarily rejects the entire study of morality.
Nope. I'm a materialist, not a relativist -- although I believe that quite a lot of the moral positions that you (and others) might consider absolute and objective are in fact products of social conditioning. I think it is generally possible, from a position of reason, to conclude what is or is not the optimum resolution of most ethical questions -- but also think that the optimum position may well change based on circumstance. This might smell quite a lot like relativism, as it comes close to Fenring's "slavery was okay in ancient times because it was necessary for a functional society and regular jubilees prevented generations of chattel slaves," but insofar as relativism can be expressed as "as long as enough people think something is okay, it is," I don't fall into that category. If you're defining relativism considerably more narrowly, as "the ultimate resolution of any ethical question should be guided by a combination of reasoned moral principle and considered circumstance," then I'll gladly accept the label.

And morality from my POV absolutely does not require the presumption of free will, any more than diagnosing a machine fault requires first that the device choose to be broken.

NobleHunter

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Re: A Pill for Men?
« Reply #145 on: March 08, 2023, 10:21:47 AM »
My point wasn't to support slavery, but rather to suggest that as a moral imperative it's not as clear-cut as, say, not doing murder or stealing, which would have been self-evident to anyone even in antiquity. Don't forget my remark is in context of asking why the OT doesn't condemn it.

Yes, but the statement "slavery can be tied to certain technology levels" and "slavery began to be abolished in nations at such a time as employee productivity was able to equal or even exceed that of slaves" aren't supported by the evidence.

Fenring

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Re: A Pill for Men?
« Reply #146 on: March 08, 2023, 10:36:05 AM »
Yes, but the statement "slavery can be tied to certain technology levels" and "slavery began to be abolished in nations at such a time as employee productivity was able to equal or even exceed that of slaves" aren't supported by the evidence.

I haven't done a rigorous study of it. Let's say it's a first-level hypothesis. I don't really have any skin in this game, other than what I suspect is a basic principle that people will abuse each other as much as it's convenient to do under most circumstances. It takes an exceptional society to avoid bad behavior because it's bad, rather than because there's utility in avoiding it.

JoshuaD

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Re: A Pill for Men?
« Reply #147 on: March 09, 2023, 01:45:50 AM »
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Josh: It is through natural reason that I can see that chattel slavery is immoral.
jc44: So how does that differ from "Evil is what I think is evil"? Or are you suggesting that your natural reason is unarguable and infallible?

I think there is a physical reality. I think we can come to understand the physical reality through our senses and our ability to reason. I think there are limits to what we can learn about the physical reality; some things about the physical world will always be mysterious to us. I am not saying that "things fall that I think will fall" nor am I saying that my understanding of physics is unarguable and infallable. I am simply saying that there is a physical reality and we can study it. We aren't making it up. It is not created by consensus.

Does that make sense to you and do you agree with it? If so...

In the same way, I think there is a moral reality. I think we can come to understand the moral reality through our senses and our ability to reason. I think there are limits to what we can learn about the moral reality; some things about morality will always be mysterious to us.  I am not saying that the "evil is what I think is evil" nor am I saying that my understanding of morality is unarguable and infallable. I am simply saying that there is a moral reality and we can study it. We aren't making it up. It is not created by consensus.
« Last Edit: March 09, 2023, 01:52:52 AM by JoshuaD »

JoshuaD

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Re: A Pill for Men?
« Reply #148 on: March 09, 2023, 02:06:08 AM »
I brought up scripture in relation to slavery as slavery was certainly practiced at the time and if it was a clear Evil then then I would have expected at least a couple of words on the subject. If it is necessary to say "thou shalt not kill" (or I believe murder in more recent translations) and slavery is only one notch below that in Evil then you might have expected there to be a mention somewhere.

I really don't see the point in going into another tangent here. I brought up chattel slavery and cannibalism to contradict the idea that morality is defined by popular opinion, not to derail the thread further.

That being said,
1. I do not think slavery is intrinsically evil (see * below) which is why I specified chattel slavery in my post (which I tend to think is intrinsically evil),
2. I did not say that "slavery is only one notch below murder in evil". Slavery generally seems real bad to me. I don't know about all the rest of that stuff you made up and then attributed to me.

* Imagine it's 10,000 BC and you just got attacked by a strange tribe of one thousand men who were led by someone who hated you. He was a also a good provider, so plenty of people followed him. You defeat his army and there are one hundred of his men left alive. What do you do with them? If you let them go free, there's every chance they might sneak into your camp at night and kill you. There are no prisons. You don't have the technology to transport them magically away from you. You can kill them, but that kind of sucks. In this circumstance, slavery to me seems like a mercy. You enslave them, you get to know them, you integrate them into your society, you humanize them and show your humanity to them, and you hope to be able to integrate them at some point. This seems better than just executing them outright to me.

Having wandered through your references it is clear that Native Americans were seen as not-slaves from quite early by the Catholic church (15xx) but it takes until your last reference in 1888 for black Africans to be not-slaves. So again for something where natural reason "clearly" says this is evil it took a while for it to be actually said. As an aside I have to say that Urban VIII was an interesting character - wars, overspending and banning tobacco in holy places - in the last at least he was clearly ahead of his time!

If you'd like to talk about this topic, we can. If you're going to sneer at me, I am not going to spend time carefully thinking through your question, gather useful sources for you to look at, and then writing up a careful response. If you want to talk sincerely, great. I'm in. If you want to sneer, you can go look in a mirror or find some midwit on reddit to exchange words with.


JoshuaD

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Re: A Pill for Men?
« Reply #149 on: March 09, 2023, 02:07:43 AM »
Slavery in the OT is actually a bad example, for a few reasons. First of all, I suspect ancient civilizations actually needed slavery in order to function on a basic level. You can like it or not, but facts are facts. And the Mosaic law was designed not only as a moral code but as a guide to how the civilization could survive and thrive. The NT, at any rate, teaches that some of those laws were timely to that society and not meant to be kept forever. It's also worth noting that in OT times they had a jubilee every ~50 years, so that slaves were freed and debts were forgiven. This may not sound like much, but it would have at least prevented generational slavery and indebtedness, the latter of which we have yet to catch up to today.

Unfortunately, slavery can largely be tied to certain technological levels, and IMO it's no coincidence that slavery began to be abolished in nations at such a time as employee productivity was able to equal or even exceed that of slaves. I'm not a history expert, but the timing seems to coincidental to me. It's not as if people invented morality in 1800, so something else was the clincher. I'm obviously not for slavery, and in fact see many traces of it in ostensibly non-slave institutionality today; but I also don't agree with getting all high and mighty about it. A great many people would have been for it had they lived in 1200.

This is a terrible and non-catholic argument. If and when slavery is evil, no amount of "need of civilization" would justify it. Acts that are evil in the means can never be justified by the ends.