Archive for the ‘Propositions’ Category

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Canadian Banks, Something to be proud of.

March 22, 2009

I had been thinking about this a lot recently.  Some of the more right wing people I read from the States have been arguing that this crisis does not mean that the markets need to be regulated.  While I have tended to agree with this I’ve often wondered about what regulations mean.  Then I read this article from the Globe and Mail and could not help but think maybe I’m wrong.

Former central bank governor David Dodge agrees. Canadian bank executives keenly remember that period, “and there was therefore perhaps a degree of prudence, a lack of aggressiveness, in comparison with major banks around the world,” he said.

And he gives top marks to the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions, Canada’s banking regulator, for being more conservative than those in the U.S. or Britain. “I think that, from a regulatory point of view, you can say that the Canadian banks were more appropriately regulated.” (Emphasis mine)

The idea of the free market only really makes sense if you do not have powerhouses, like the American banks, that can manipulate the system.  When it comes to corporations or the Government having controls I’ll choose the Government; at least when they screw up the little guys can fire them.

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Ethics, Science, and Power.

March 11, 2009

Today in my History of Psychology class we were discussing (or perhaps being discussed to) Neitzsche.  I’m fascinated by his view of the consequences of atheism on ethics.  So far as I can tell from Beyond Good and Evil Neitzsche* believed that when ethics meets relativism right is decided by the most powerful.   So where does this fit in with Science?  Wired published an article on the trouble of the terminology surrounding Obama’s lifting of Bush’s restrictions on stem cell research.  Phrases like Bush’s decision being a “really, really unwelcome intrusion of politics into science” proliferated in the wake of Obama’s decision.  In a democracy though, laws are ostensibly the tools of the citizens to ensure distasteful actions do not occur.

What Wired missed though was a much deeper issue.  In the penultimate paragraph Brandon Keim says this,

But there will be plenty of cases in the future when the aims of science — or, to be more precise, certain scientists — conflict with widely held values. And if the legacy of the stem cell debate is to label all conscientious objection as anti-science bias, it will be a toxic legacy indeed.

The idea that “widely held values” is enough to define morality runs into trouble not just with science (imagining how people from a hundred years ago would have viewed embryonic stem cell research might cast light on this), but also with much larger issues.  The atrocities in Rwanda were perpetrated by the majority.  We have in a situation like Rwanada a clear demonstration of the poverty of “widely held values.”

So here is my question.  Knowing that Hitler’s policies enjoyed support so wide it even surprised him.  His reaction to Krystalnacht is one demosntration of this.  Also while keeping in mind that most in Europe and the wider world did not go to war because of Hitler’s racial ideology but because of his aggressive militarism.  What would have been the case to intervene in Germany assuming they never invaded another country?

*I’ve yet to read much of it, although I’ve tried.

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Another G.K. Quote.

February 26, 2009

I love G.K. Chesterton. N.T. Wright referred to him on a video I was watching today when being open minded came up. I searched for the direct quote and found this:

Merely having an open mind is nothing; the object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid.
G.K. Chesterton

Skepticism is a valid intermediary position.  One should be willing to examine evidence, and suspend judgement barring sufficient information.  However, sufficient is the key word here.  If you spend your entire life waiting to be entirely convinced of everything you will get nowhere.  That is the trouble with walking around open-minded; your brains tend to fall out.*

*I realize that last sentence is not original, but I can’t find out who originally said it.

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Torture, Ethics, and God

February 24, 2009

I haven’t had much time to blog, I’m on reading week, which is attempting to live up to its name.   I’ve finally gotten around to answering my good friend Matt’s (who should blog) response to my thought’s on torture.  I meant to keep it short but it kind of exploded.  You can read and add to the discussion here.

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Some thoughts on Torture.

February 17, 2009

For torture to be condemned requires absolute morality.

Atheistic utilitarian ethics eliminates restraint in information gathering provided more lives are at stake than the one being tortured.

As we have seen with nations like China and Soviet Russia, when God is removed from the equation torture becomes a viable option.  Torture’s use can be for anything deemed a threat to the state, internal or external.

Deism will not do, the blind watchmaker who disappeared could care less about any of us, much less one of us.

Nations whose constitutions are declared under God, such as Canada or the U.S. must subscribe to absolute morality or forfeit honouring their constitution.

Nations with a constitutional directive to employ absolutes in their ethical processes cannot resort to Torture for information gathering.

(This is my first simul-blog with Deep and Meaningful for Dummies, an awesome project by my friend David.)

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Proposition 1

November 16, 2008

Biology is a history, not a science.

Any thoughts?