Saturday, January 23, 2016

Quote Of The Day: Weak Emergentism


Many naturalists and materialists (not the same thing) favor reductionism over emergentism. Emergentism, some of them say, is a like having a magic wand that can simply declare higher levels of phenomena without having to really explain them; they just "emerge." But just like with scientism, there are strong and weak versions of emergentism. The quote below is from Sean Carroll in a Q & A he did with 3 AM magazine on what weak emergentism is, and why naturalists shouldn't fear it.


I think emergence is absolutely central to how naturalists should think about the world, and how we should find room for higher-level concepts from tables to free will in a way compatible with the scientific image. But “weak” emergence, not strong emergence. That is simply the idea that there are multiple theories/languages/vocabularies/ontologies that we can use to usefully describe the world, each appropriate at different levels of coarse-graining and precision. I always return to the example of thermodynamics (fluids, energy, pressure, entropy) and kinetic theory (collections of atoms and molecules with individual positions and momenta). Here we have two ways of talking, each perfectly valid within a domain of applicability, but with the domain of one theory (thermodynamics) living strictly inside the domain of the other (kinetic theory). Crucially, the “emergent” higher-level theory can exhibit features that you might naively think are ruled out by the lower-level rules; in particular, thermodynamics famously has an arrow of time defined by the Second Law (entropy increases in isolated systems), whereas the microscopic rules of the lower-level theory are completely time-symmetric and arrowless.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

A Question To Pro-life Conservatives


Hypothetical:

If every illegal immigrant female in the US became pregnant right now, what would you choose given only these two options:

(1) would you rather have 7 or 8 million more anchor babies born in the US nine months from now; or
(2) would you rather have all of them have an abortion

?

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Questions No One Knows the Answers to (Full Version)


This is a nice little video with animation asking some of the deepest questions in philosophy that we do not have definitive answers on, and frighteningly, for some at least, we might not ever.




Ted Cruz Is Wrong On "New York Values"


Presidential candidate and former Canadian national Ted Cruz recently said that his rival Donald Trump embodies "New York values" as a way to insinuate that Trump is out of line with most of America. When pressed on exactly what he meant by New York values Cruz said that it refers to liberal values like abortion and same sex marriage.

"[E]veryone understands that the values in New York City are socially liberal or pro-abortion or pro-gay-marriage, focus around money and the media," Cruz said in last week's Republican debate.

"They're not Iowa values," he said on Fox News, "and they're not New Hampshire values."

Oh really?

Are liberal "New York values" on abortion and gay marriage really all that different from the rest of the country? Actually, no. They're not.

Pew recently conducted a poll where 55% of Americans "Favor allowing gays and lesbains to marry legally."And Gallup conducted a poll where 60% of Americans said same sex marriage "Should be valid." This number is only going to get bigger and bigger given current demographic trends. Interestingly, New Hampshire was one of the earliest states to legalize gay marriage and did so even before New York.

On abortion, Gallup conducted a poll that showed 50% of Americans identify as pro-choice and 44% identify as pro-life. A Quinnipiac poll in late 2015 showed that 57% of Americans think abortion should be legal in all or most cases, and 40% think it should be illegal in most or all cases.

Most Americans favor legal abortion and gay marriage. New York values are American values, Ted.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Free Will, Science, and Religion Podcast - Ranting On Politics


On this episode of the Free Will, Science, and Religion podcast I rant and rave about the upcoming election and some of the problems with the republican field. This is what we call an "impersonal opinion" episode where we stray from the main topics that the podcast is about.




Sunday, January 17, 2016

The Thinker - A Novel (Chapter 1 Part 3) Bike Ride




I WOKE UP AROUND TEN-THIRTY IN THE MORNING. Being a natural night owl, I knew a pattern was slowly developing. Each day I’d wake up a little bit later than the previous day and would eventually be getting up at three in the afternoon and going to bed at seven AM. I didn’t want to let myself get that bad. Not for a while at least. I made myself breakfast, using the last egg that had probably been sitting in my fridge for a few weeks and some Italian sausages that probably weren’t much younger. I put some frozen waffles in the toaster and sliced up an avocado to add something a bit more healthy in the mix. As I sat and ate I watched the day’s news on TV and contemplated what I was going to do that day. Thoughts of work and getting fired were quickly fading away. Two days unemployed and I was nearing that point where I couldn’t give a shit anymore. My morale was quite high. I was excited about this journey and where it would take me.
     Since the weather was so nice and it was midsummer I decided that a bike ride was in store. I had an old red Raleigh mountain bike that was nearing its death but still ran decently. I greased the chain up with some WD40, pumped up the tires, put on my shades and my old cabbie hat and took off out into the summer sun. I lived in Queens but I had Brooklyn on my mind for some reason, and so Brooklyn it was.
     It felt so strange being out in the middle of the day on a weekday. It had been so long since I saw the city it this day and hour. The streets were lively and filled with people. Kids were out playing in the playground sprinklers; old men were playing bocce in the park; beautiful young women were walking their dogs. And all of this went on every day when I was slaving away at work. I crossed the John Jay Byrne bridge from Queens into Brooklyn. It goes right through that big industrial area bisected by Newtown creek. I headed south towards Williamsburg, hipster central. It was a favorite party area for me and my friends due to all the twenty-something girls and the abundance of bars. In the daylight it almost seemed like a sleepy neighborhood, far from its nighttime alter ego. I remember when the so-called “hipster” culture exploded in New York back in 2001. The Strokes had come out and reinvigorated indie rock and set off a new culture trend. They brought skinny jeans and mop-tops back. It slowly put a death curse on the angry rap metal that had permeated the culture for years up until that point. I was glad to see rap metal and nu-metal die. I never felt acquainted with its brashness and angry vitriolic lyrics and sound.

The Short Rebuttal To The Fine Tuning Argument



On atheism fine tuning is expected because only universes that can sustain life will have life capable of observing it. On theism however, a god could create life in a universe that had laws that were not capable of sustaining life, and keep that life alive through a perpetual miracle. If we had discovered that the laws and parameters of the universe were inhospitable for sustaining life, and yet life somehow existed in a way that was completely inexplicable by natural means, then that would actually be evidence of design, since atheism or naturalism could never account for that. The existence of life in such a case would literally be a miracle in the traditional Humean sense of a supernatural violation of the laws of nature in a way science could never explain.

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