Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course

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Why do we always jump to Murder and Hitler?

This is a logic post that for some reason never got published when we initially did the unit so I’m posting it now, sorry for the Inconvenience!

I’ve noticed that during discussions of any ethical debate the topics of Murder and Hitler always come up when a comparison is needed. At first i thought we were all being just a bit dramatic for effect when trying to conduct a persuasive argument,and although this may be true in some cases, there may be more to this than I had originally thought. I think they key in any logical argument is that there needs to be a point of reference. and what I mean by this is that there needs to be reference to something that your audience is already familiar with, so they can compare and contrast your ideas on a familiar scale. So when talking, especially about ethical issues we often need to compare our topic with something that the audience is already familiar with as extremely bad or immoral, therefore I can see why people would often use things such as murder or Hitler to use as comparison topics. It is engrained into the brain of every human being on the planet, from countless sources, including our justice system, that murder is absolutely wrong and will be met with severe punishment. And one of the other truths we are taught is that Adolf Hitler is arguably the most evil man in history. These are two truths that are familiar to any general audience, regardless of race, religion, gender, etc. In other words, your audience will immediately know exactly how they feel about those two topics as soon as they are mentioned, so they are easy to use as comparison references.When we were talking about the cultural genocide of the First Nations Peoples, I realized that I didn’t really have a huge understanding of that topic, or how horrible it really was. But when people started comparing events to things Hitler did, I was immediately able to understand how extremely bad things were, and sympathize much more with the First Nations peoples. This is the importance of having a familiar point of reference when conducting an argument, It makes the audience much more aware of exactly how bad (or good if we were to use different comparison references) your topic is.

Based on what we talked about in class, a very simple argument could be constructed in this form:

 

The First Nations people are being segregated and killed.

Hitler took much inspiration from the way settlers treated the First Nations

Both the Jews and the First Nations befell the same crimes and genocide.

 

 

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Is Unethical Farming a Choice We’re Making?

Joel & Jayden 

It’s not exactly a secret that many food companies aren’t always 100% transparent with the ways that they produce their food. It may however be more confusing or more opaque about how exactly they go about doing that.

food companies rely on 3 key marketing strategies when presenting their products. 

  1. misleading labeling & wrongfully suggestive advertising
  2. Focus on Progress
  3. Willful Ignorance 

Misleading Labeling: we’ve all heard the slogans, ones like “100% natural” or “Farm Fresh” but what do these slogans actually mean? absolutely nothing in the sense of how we think of them. When we think of a farm we like to think of wide open spaces, with lots of green grass, where animals are free to roam, and graze as they please. the sad reality of source farms for food production companies is that that mental image is entirely not what those farms actually look like.

pign                   factory-farms-11

http://advocacy.britannica.com/blog/advocacy/wp-content/uploads/factory-farms-11.jpg

Focus On Progress:   By telling consumers that the companies are making “progress” it can help persuade the consumers to feel better about the product they are buying. For instance, If we are shown pigs or cows that are not in dirty, and muddy fields, but instead inside of barns that shelter them, that could be seen as progress that has been made in keeping the animals more comfortable and clean. taking them out of the environments where diseases are, and putting them into the clean barns. this is a positive thought and can reinforce the idea that there is nothing wrong with the process of which the meat is attained.

Willful Ignorance:  Because the buying and eating of animal products has become so normal to our everyday lives, its no longer something everyone actually thinks about in a deep way. This means that companies that produce these products can continue to do so, because every one of their consumers is simply pushing what they already know out of their own minds. Most people are aware of how horribly animals in these situations are being treated, but those very same people are the ones that are willfully choosing to push these facts out of their mind, and not think about it, because if they did it might cause them to consider not eating those products anymore.

 There is no question that the practice of factory farming animals is unethical, sure, we as the collective populous are receiving an incredible amount of meat, and animal by product, but at what cost. So do the ends justify the means? Statistics show that last year was the largest gain for animal products, but the cost of that was 3.7 billion animals butchered, living in small, damp and cramped cages where they were kept in killed in very inhumane ways. But it’s okay right, because these types of farming were only born out of necessity. The demand for animal products was to great to be satisfied in a cheap way. we have steaks on the table and bacon in the morning, right? Wrong.  In my very subjective opinion, I feel this is a unjust, immoral and unethical way to get your meat. If you want to get  a chicken breast or a nice steak, go to a local butcher where they would 90% of the time of well fed, free-run animals that have lived a nice happy life.

for a bit more expansion on these topics check out this video: 

 The organization she works for:    http://www.ciwf.org.uk/

 

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Ridiculously Aesthetically Pleasing Things

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Are these not unexplainably pleasing to look at? my inner OCD is finally at rest. This would be a positive aesthetic experience for me

 

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Knowledge is…

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Knowledge is an idea, concept, or belief that can be communicated between at least two organisms. If one can first acquire and retain information in such a way that we can categorize it as knowledge, then that knowledge itself could be useless unless a clear thought path was evident, in such a way that the knowledge could be understood by the being itself, and then be understood by other beings or organisms that encounter the original being.

The key characteristic of knowledge is that it should be possible to share that knowledge with others in some way. The method of communication itself is rather unimportant, as long as there is a way to pass that information between two organisms one way or another. I purposefully didn’t say “conscious” organisms because I believe knowledge is in some ways shared by organisms that we might not consider “conscious”. For instance, although pine trees cannot directly share ideas, or discuss the best time to release their pinecones, they all participate in this action at the same time (if they are living in the same place of course). Or if a maple tree, is attacked by bugs, it will release a pheromone that will tell other surrounding trees to start creating chemicals and pheromones to help fight off, and repel the bugs.

One could argue that this communication between plant species is a form of knowledge, because it is shared with the other trees in its immediate surrounding community. Even though most people think only of humans when contemplating what or who can actually attain knowledge, but we must realize that knowledge is prevalent in all kingdoms of life. from plants, to animals, to humans, to the cells that they are composed of. I believe that an organism doesn’t have to be “conscious” to be able to pass on or attain “knowledge”. self awareness, and consciousness do make the sharing of knowledge substantially easier. such as with animals, wolves are taught how to hunt by the elder wolves who were in turn taught by their parents. or in the way that many birds migrate south at the same time every year, they contain the knowledge that it will soon be too cold to sustain their food source, and they will die if they do not migrate to places where food will be more abundant in the winter.

the key difference however lies in what different organisms use their acquired knowledge for. In the animal and plant kingdoms it would be accurate to say that the knowledge they acquire is used for survival purposes almost exclusively. Humans on the other hand do indeed use much of our knowledge for survival, but we also have the ability to debate and discuss ethical topics that aren’t necessities to survive. Humans just like other organisms are constantly looking for ways to make life easier, but at the same time we are one of the only species that constantly feels discontent with systems that are already working well, and don’t necessarily need change at all.

 

 

 

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/do-plants-think-daniel-chamovitz/

 

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Thought you guys might find this interesting

This is a letter writen by Kurt Vonnegut in 1988. It’s addressed to people in the year 2088. Again, I did NOT write this, I copied and pasted so you guys wouldnt have to follow the link, but if you would like the link anyways its at the bottom.

“Ladies & Gentlemen of A.D. 2088:

It has been suggested that you might welcome words of wisdom from the past, and that several of us in the twentieth century should send you some. Do you know this advice from Polonius in Shakespeare’s Hamlet: ‘This above all: to thine own self be true’? Or what about these instructions from St. John the Divine: ‘Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment has come’? The best advice from my own era for you or for just about anybody anytime, I guess, is a prayer first used by alcoholics who hoped to never take a drink again: ‘God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.’

Our century hasn’t been as free with words of wisdom as some others, I think, because we were the first to get reliable information about the human situation: how many of us there were, how much food we could raise or gather, how fast we were reproducing, what made us sick, what made us die, how much damage we were doing to the air and water and topsoil on which most life forms depended, how violent and heartless nature can be, and on and on. Who could wax wise with so much bad news pouring in?

For me, the most paralyzing news was that Nature was no conservationist. It needed no help from us in taking the planet apart and putting it back together some different way, not necessarily improving it from the viewpoint of living things. It set fire to forests with lightning bolts. It paved vast tracts of arable land with lava, which could no more support life than big-city parking lots. It had in the past sent glaciers down from the North Pole to grind up major portions of Asia, Europe, and North America. Nor was there any reason to think that it wouldn’t do that again someday. At this very moment it is turning African farms to deserts, and can be expected to heave up tidal waves or shower down white-hot boulders from outer space at any time. It has not only exterminated exquisitely evolved species in a twinkling, but drained oceans and drowned continents as well. If people think Nature is their friend, then they sure don’t need an enemy.

Yes, and as you people a hundred years from now must know full well, and as your grandchildren will know even better: Nature is ruthless when it comes to matching the quantity of life in any given place at any given time to the quantity of nourishment available. So what have you and Nature done about overpopulation? Back here in 1988, we were seeing ourselves as a new sort of glacier, warm-blooded and clever, unstoppable, about to gobble up everything and then make love—and then double in size again.

On second thought, I am not sure I could bear to hear what you and Nature may have done about too many people for too small a food supply.

And here is a crazy idea I would like to try on you: Is it possible that we aimed rockets with hydrogen bomb warheads at each other, all set to go, in order to take our minds off the deeper problem—how cruelly Nature can be expected to treat us, Nature being Nature, in the by-and-by?

Now that we can discuss the mess we are in with some precision, I hope you have stopped choosing abysmally ignorant optimists for positions of leadership. They were useful only so long as nobody had a clue as to what was really going on—during the past seven million years or so. In my time they have been catastrophic as heads of sophisticated institutions with real work to do.

The sort of leaders we need now are not those who promise ultimate victory over Nature through perseverance in living as we do right now, but those with the courage and intelligence to present to the world what appears to be Nature’s stern but reasonable surrender terms:

  1. Reduce and stabilize your population.
  2. Stop poisoning the air, the water, and the topsoil.
  3. Stop preparing for war and start dealing with your real problems.
  4. Teach your kids, and yourselves, too, while you’re at it, how to inhabit a small planet without helping to kill it.
  5. Stop thinking science can fix anything if you give it a trillion dollars.
  6. Stop thinking your grandchildren will be OK no matter how wasteful or destructive you may be, since they can go to a nice new planet on a spaceship. That is really mean, and stupid.
  7. And so on. Or else.

Am I too pessimistic about life a hundred years from now? Maybe I have spent too much time with scientists and not enough time with speechwriters for politicians. For all I know, even bag ladies and bag gentlemen will have their own personal helicopters or rocket belts in A.D. 2088. Nobody will have to leave home to go to work or school, or even stop watching television. Everybody will sit around all day punching the keys of computer terminals connected to everything there is, and sip orange drink through straws like the astronauts.

Cheers,

Kurt Vonnegut

http://writerswrite.co.za/kurt-vonnegut-writing-advice-and-a-letter-for-2088

 

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Is religion a hindrance to consciousness?

It seems that religion is the attempt to answer life’s big questions. questions like “why are we here?”, “What is our purpose” etc. To me this seems to be the answer that would come easiest, as if mankind became tired of questions not being answered, so they imagined a answer that was so unbelievably fantastical, that people took to the idea, because it was such a comforting and romantic notion. This idea attempted to explain every question we had about our human existence, If an all-knowing power exists than theres no need to continue wondering, and being frustrated by a lack of answers. But to me this seems extremely counter – productive. If we are to really answer all the questions we have as a society, we can never be satisfied with the answers we have. over and over again, we believe we have a final answer, but with that answer comes even more questions. regardless of how arrogant mankind becomes, we can never truly know everything. Historians don’t know exactly when religion started, but there are thousands of theories as to why religion was born. It very well could be that at the time, people were not advanced enough to understand things that they were witnessing, or didn’t have the technology to really defend, or prove their ideas. But the romantics of religion seem to be that no technology, or tests are needed to have the theory of an “almighty force”. But now that people have become much more persistent in challenging the social norms, more and more alternate theories have been developed and with the technology we have, are becoming more and more valid, and have yet to be proven wrong. but to me the most important part of these religion-opposing theories is that there is proof, there is physical, observable, evidence to back up those ideas. For instance, originally people thought that the heavens were in the clouds of the sky, but now that we have planes, and and even spacecrafts, that take us higher than where people thought “heaven” resided. And to this day there has never been a proven report of seeing a “paradise in the sky”. Better yet, the Greeks believed their gods resided on top of a VERY CLIMBABLE hill and no one ever bothered to check, and prove that theory. We now know of course, that olympus is not actually on the top of the mountain. I have found with religion that for me the concepts are difficult to understand, or support because there is no observable evidence, only speculation, or theories. It seems the debate of science and faith may never end.

 

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Philosophy Reflection

“Both Teachers and learners go to sleep at their post, as soon as their is no enemy in the field”

Over the past few days I have been able to reflect deeply upon how I view philosophy as a whole, and have come to the conclusion that there is definitely no ONE way to view the subject. There are just too many varying opinions on the unceasing amounts of topics all contained within the rather broad spectrum of the term “Philosophy”. However, along with all those varying opinions comes what could be the most important aspect of the whole practice of Philosophy, the concept of sharing one’s ideas with others so that they can be argued and fought against. No single person could see every minute flaw within their own ideas, because if you have convinced yourself of a truth or statement, then your statement is biased. Holding an idea or belief in such a high regard may be causing you to overlook potential downfalls or flaws of that idea. I believe that opposition is the most important aspect of developing and refining idea’s into their most truthful and impactful state. As noted by the quote above, if one’s idea goes completely unchallenged, the preparation or validity of that idea may become deeply flawed.

 
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