PHILOMADRID

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group, Sunday meeting: Conspiracy

Dear friends,


This Sunday we are discussing : conspiracy.

Something that is very topical these days, but what is a conspiracy and what should be done about it. In the very short essay, better still, my few paragraphs of ramblings on the topic, I concentrate on the scope of conspiracies in democracies. This is not a conspiracy to shy away from a detailed essay but rather a victim of lack of time.

See you Sunday and take care

Lawrence



IF YOU DON’T GET AN EMAIL BY FRIDAY PLEASE LET ME KNOW


+++++++++MEETING DETAILS+++++++++
SUNDAY 6.00pm – 8.30pm at Molly Malone's Pub, probably downstairs----
-Email: philomadrid@yahoo.co.uk
-Yahoo group >> philomadridgroup-subscribe@yahoogroups.co.uk <
-Old essays: www.geocities.com/philomadrid
- Blog: http://philomadrid.blogspot.com/
-Group photos: http://picasaweb.google.com/photosphilo
-My tel 606081813
-metro: Bilbao : buses: 21, 149, 147
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Dimas Taxi service: mobile 627 219 316 email dimasobregon@hotmail.com

TINA Flat http://picasaweb.google.co.uk/photosphilo/TINAFLAT

Cambio with Igancio and friends: Every Thursday, from 19:30 to 21h, at Moore’s Irish Pub, c/ Barceló 1 (metro Tribunal).
http://sites.google.com/site/tertuliainenglishmadrid/

**********HOLIDAY FLATS**********
Mayte; Almería (Villa de Níjar); http://picasaweb.google.com/photosphilo/HOLIDAY_FLAT_mayte_AlmerAVillaDeNJar
*************************************






Conspiracy

The backbone of a conspiracy is deception and sometimes subversion is also included. The function of deception is either to hide past actions from others or to hide present enterprise of a dubious nature.

Moreover, conspiracies are usually associated with those in power or authority but of course, conspiracies can also be against those in power or authority. Consider, for example, the various coups and take-over’s of governments. And when conspiracies are organised by those in power usually they are done to deceive the general population or more specifically voters.

But what distinguishes conspiracies from other illegal, criminal or immoral activities? Especially, since many of these activities also include deception and manipulation of facts. For example, was the Madoff affair a conspiracy or simply a criminal deception?

It does not help to look at the number of people involved. For example, by claiming that a few people would make something a criminal act but say more than twenty people would make something a conspiracy. Numbers do not help because what matters, in my opinion, is that those who are conspiring must have the means to bring about their enterprise.

However, the aspect that might be of more concern from a philosophical point of view is that there are two types of conspiracies. True conspiracies and made up conspiracies, either as a consequence of lack of information, or to attack those in authority or power. Of course, we have no problem with real conspiracies. The facts will out one day, and the truth shall be know.

Made up conspiracies, either started as a rumour or as political machination are the ones that interest us. Let’s take a long time conspiracy: UFOs. In the absence of any hard facts about beings from other planets or believable denial from those in power, conspiracies are bound to start sprouting. In any case, whether there are or aren’t aliens in spaceships does not matter since either they are friendly, and they let us live our own lives without interfering with our destiny. Although, if there are any aliens out there and reading this, please don’t be shy stop us from hurting ourselves before we do some serious damage. And if they are not friendly, what are they waiting for?

And then there are the conspiracies that really concern us. 9-11 comes immediately to mind, and until recently there was the conspiracy that the motor car industry was holding back alternative technology, such as electric powered cars, because they want to exploit the combustion engine.

Today we know that the car industry, if they had a conspiracy going, at least in Detroit, was to commit suicide. Besides, we cannot even use a simple mobile phone without having to recharge it after a few hours use, can you imagine a car with a battery and not needing to recharge it half way to Galicia?

But what about conspiracies like those of 9-11? You know the one, that the administration at the time organised the high jacking or the milder version, they knew about the high jacking and did not stop it. Whether there was or wasn’t a 9-11 conspiracy is irrelevant for us since the truth will come out sooner or later.

However, what is interesting for us is that these types of conspiracies have a direct bearing on the structure of government and authority. And more importantly for us, what are the consequences of conspiracies of this type on the fundamentals of democracy’

In a democracy, and I am not particularly concerned about the pros and cons of democracies nor the peculiar versions that are found of in various places, there are two important forces: the government and the opposition. But the real danger, in my opinion, of subverting democracy or deceiving a nation, are not the actions of the government, but rather the way the opposition performs its duty.

By opposition I do not only mean the party in a parliament that does not form a government, but also those various groups and associations that are stake holders in the powers of the state: unions, professional associations, interest groups, the media and so on.

In particular, what is the function of the opposition? It cannot be to spend the time in-fighting amongst themselves, nor can it be to simply criticise those in power or to say - no. It is an accepted principle in political philosophy that the opposition is there to provide political checks and balances for the majority in parliament in the same way that the judiciary and parliament provide the checks and balances for the power and authority of the administration, i.e. government.

In my opinion, an opposition that does not provide constructive checks and balances is itself subverting the authority of the state and deceiving the population. And the opposition is doing this because disagreeing with someone is not the same as demonstrating someone’s failure.

However, made up conspiracies subvert democracies because they challenge authority and in many cases weaken authority without going through the recognised channels of democracy. We mustn’t forget that made up conspiracies can indeed influence a population or influence the actions of a government.

A disorganised opposition, or an opposition that is not doing its duty, means that a weak government can become a strong government and a strong government can become a powerful government. And we know from history that the closer one is to power the closer one can make innocent or not so innocent mistakes.

But disagreeing with those in authority for the sake of disagreeing is not the same as having evidence and reasonable concern about the exercise of power by the government. To conclude therefore it is the duty of an opposition to investigate any alleged conspiracies any alleged wrong doing by those in power, since, as I have said, in a democracy there are institutions whose duty it is to provide checks and balances for the power governments have.

Made up conspiracies have no function in a democracy, and conspiracies, in a democracy ought to and should be exposed. Better still, the environment in which a democracy has to function can only be transparency. But it is the function of the opposition to keep this transparency clear.

Take care

Lawrence








from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group, Sunday meeting: Conspiracy







Thursday, March 19, 2009

from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group, Sunday meeting: Homo Economicus + NEWS incl. Cercedilla Saturday

Short Essay by Ignacio: Richard looking for a room, Cercedilla this SATURDAY and Monica going on the Camino di Santiago




Dear friends,

This Sunday we are discussing Homo Economicus.

Ignacio kindly wrote us a short essay on the topic. In the meantime I have been asked to send you the following news:

---------------- from Ricahrd, rather urgent ------------------
Hello, Law
I was wondering whether anyone could help me. I am looking for a room. An absolute must is
a direct access to the Internet (no wi-fi as it does not work properly with a desktop, I have had some bad experience) and a possibility to have a satellite dish installed. This is as important as having access to the kitchen and the bathroom.
Thank you for your attention.
Richard

---------------- from Monica --------------------------------

Hello Lawrence,
this year, again, I´m going to the way of Santiago, from 9-April in Irun (Pais Vasco) to 19-April in Castro Urdiales (Santander).

If someone wants to go or more information, can send me e-mail. monicapelegrin11@hotmail.com

or see : http://caminodesantiago.consumer.es/los-caminos-de-santiago/del-norte/ (only in Spanish)

Thanks,
Monica


-------------- This SATURDAY going to CERCEDILLA -----------------

Kim wants to go to Cercedilla, the Calzada Romana and the Mirador, so we’re meeting at Renfe Nuevos Ministerios at 10.30am to catch the 11.09am train.

See you Saturday and Sunday

Take care

Lawrence


IF YOU DON’T GET AN EMAIL BY FRIDAY PLEASE LET ME KNOW


+++++++++MEETING DETAILS+++++++++
SUNDAY 6.00pm – 8.30pm at Molly Malone's Pub, probably downstairs----
-Email: philomadrid@yahoo.co.uk
-Yahoo group >> philomadridgroup-subscribe@yahoogroups.co.uk <
-Old essays: www.geocities.com/philomadrid
- Blog: http://philomadrid.blogspot.com/
-Group photos: http://picasaweb.google.com/photosphilo
-My tel 606081813
-metro: Bilbao : buses: 21, 149, 147
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++







Hi Lawrence,

Looking for possible interesting stuff about the topic and, unfortunately with minor success as you will see... Anyway, have a good extra holiday this week and, see you on Sunday!

Ignacio

Homo economicus



From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia



Homo economicus, or Economic human, is the concept in some economic theories of humans as rational and broadly self-interested actors who have the ability to make judgments towards their subjectively defined ends.

It is concerned with him solely as a being who desires to possess wealth, and who is capable of judging the comparative efficacy of means for obtaining that end.

Homo economicus is seen as "rational" in the sense that well-being as defined by the utility function is optimized given perceived opportunities.



"homo economicus" assumptions have been criticized by cross-cultural comparison. Have demonstrated that in traditional societies, choices people make regarding production and exchange of goods follow patterns of reciprocity which differ sharply from what the "homo economicus" model postulates. Such systems have been termed gift economy rather than market economy.

Economists Thorstein Veblen, John Maynard Keynes, Herbert Simon, stress uncertainty and bounded rationality in the making of economic decisions, rather than relying on the rational man who is fully informed of all circumstances impinging on his decisions. They argue that perfect knowledge never exists, which means that all economic activity implies risk.

Other critics, point to the excessive emphasis on extrinsic motivation (rewards and punishments from the social environment) as opposed to intrinsic motivation. For example, it is difficult if not impossible to understand how Homo economicus would be a hero in war or would get inherent pleasure from craftsmanship. Frey and others argue that too much emphasis on rewards and punishments can "crowd out" (discourage) intrinsic motivation: paying a boy for doing household tasks may push him from doing those tasks "to help the family" to doing them simply for the reward.

Another weakness is highlighted by sociologists, who argue that Homo economicus ignores an extremely important question, i.e., the origins of tastes and the parameters of the utility function by social influences, training, education, and the like. The exogeneity of tastes (preferences) in this model is the major distinction from Homo sociologicus, in which tastes are taken as partially or even totally determined by the societal environment (see below).

Further critics, learning from the broadly-defined psychoanalytic tradition, criticize the Homo economicus model as ignoring the inner conflicts that real-world individuals suffer, as between short-term and long-term goals (e.g., eating chocolate cake and losing weight) or between individual goals and societal values. Such conflicts may lead to "irrational" behavior involving inconsistency, psychological paralysis, neurosis, and/or psychic pain.

Some critics argue that a "naive" presentation of Homo Economicus model can result in a self-fulfilling prophecy. One possible case of this has been in the teaching of economics. Several research studies have indicated that those students who take economics courses end up being more self-centered than before they took the courses. For example, they are less willing to co-operate with the other player in a "prisoner's-dilemma"-type game.

Others argue that Homo economicus is a reasonable approximation for behavior within market institutions, since the individualized nature of human action in such social settings encourages individualistic behavior. Not only do market settings encourage the application of a simple cost/benefit calculus by individuals, but they reward and thus attract the more individualistic people. It can be difficult to apply social values (as opposed to following self-interest) in an extremely competitive market; a company that refuses to pollute (for example)

Scientific American Magazine - June 17, 2007

The Prospects for Homo economicus

Homo economicus is extinct, felled by the new sciences of behavioral economics and neuroeconomics, which have demonstrated that we are remarkably irrational creatures. Thousands of experiments in behavioral economics since Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky founded the field with their seminal 1979 paper, “Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk,” have demonstrated that most of us are highly loss averse. Specifically, most people will reject the prospect of a 50–50 probability of gaining or losing money, unless the amount to be gained is at least double the amount to be lost. That is, people feel worse about the pain of a loss than they feel better about the pleasure of a gain. Twice as badly, in fact.

As the potential for gains rose, fMRI study found increased activity in the mesolimbic and mesocortical dopamine systems (dopamine is a neurotransmitter substance associated with motivation and reward). As the potential for losses increased, they found decreasing activity in these same reward-sensitive areas. Interestingly, it appears that losses and gains are coded by the same brain structures—the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, associated with decision making and learning in the context of reward and punishment, and the ventral striatum, associated with learning, motivation and reward. Individual differences in loss aversion were predicted by how much more the brain was turned off by losses than it was turned on by gains.

This effect may be caused by differences in neurochemistry, which means that some of us may be hardwired to be high- or low-risk takers, translating into real-world financial prospects, both good and bad.







+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Dimas Taxi service: mobile 627 219 316 email dimasobregon@hotmail.com

TINA Flat http://picasaweb.google.co.uk/photosphilo/TINAFLAT

Cambio organised by Ignacio: Every Thursday, from 19:30 to 21h, at Moore’s Irish Pub, c/ Barceló 1 (metro Tribunal).
http://sites.google.com/site/tertuliainenglishmadrid/

**********HOLIDAY FLATS**********
Mayte; Almería (Villa de Níjar); http://picasaweb.google.com/photosphilo/HOLIDAY_FLAT_mayte_AlmerAVillaDeNJar
*************************************




from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group, Sunday meeting: Homo Economicus + NEWS incl. Cercedilla Saturday








Friday, March 13, 2009

from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group, Sunday meeting: Intuition

Dear friends,

This Sunday we are discussing Intuition. I have only managed to write a few ideas on the subject which I hope you will appreciate. One day I hope to be able to write a full essay.

In the meantime I remind you that on Thursday Ignacio and a few of our friends are at Moore’s. Check their website:

Every Thursday, from 19:30 to 21h, at Moore’s Irish Pub, c/ Barceló 1 (metro Tribunal).

http://sites.google.com/site/tertuliainenglishmadrid/



Take care and see you Sunday


Lawrence


IF YOU DON’T GET AN EMAIL BY FRIDAY PLEASE LET ME KNOW


+++++++++MEETING DETAILS+++++++++
SUNDAY 6.00pm – 8.30pm at Molly Malone's Pub, probably downstairs----
-Email: philomadrid@yahoo.co.uk
-Yahoo group >> philomadridgroup-subscribe@yahoogroups.co.uk <
-Old essays: www.geocities.com/philomadrid
- Blog: http://philomadrid.blogspot.com/
-Group photos: http://picasaweb.google.com/photosphilo
-My tel 606081813
-metro: Bilbao : buses: 21, 149, 147
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Dimas Taxi service: mobile 627 219 316 email dimasobregon@hotmail.com

TINA Flat http://picasaweb.google.co.uk/photosphilo/TINAFLAT

**********HOLIDAY FLATS**********
Mayte; Almería (Villa de Níjar); http://picasaweb.google.com/photosphilo/HOLIDAY_FLAT_mayte_AlmerAVillaDeNJar
*************************************














Intuition,

The problem with a concept like intuition is that it is intuition when we get it right but a mistake when we get it wrong. So what is the difference between intuition and a lucky guess?

And although intuition is subjective, we still accept it as a reasonable form of thinking, specifically thinking about the future and future events. By future events I mean something like expecting what a given state of affairs will be like.

Furthermore, although we accept that some people might be more intuitive in general or about some specific things, we also recognise that everyone can have intuition to some extent or other.

A question we can ask ourselves about intuition is whether it is a conscious or subconscious process? Are we more intuitive, i.e. accurate about the future, when we consider issues consciously or subconsciously? These are more psychological and maybe neurological questions than philosophical questions.

A philosophical question would be for example, is intuition a probabilistic process or a deductive process? But the point is not whether we are right or wrong about some future event. But rather, if we are right about some future event, and we’ll know when that event takes place and not before, is this intuition based on probabilistic reasoning or deductive reasoning? If you don’t like probabilistic use inductive reasoning.

If our reasoning is probabilistic, then we are all familiar with the is-ought issues of induction. But if intuition is deductive, where, I ask you, did the future fact come from given that when we did the deduction there couldn’t have been any facts about the future? Or to put it in another way, how can we deduce something about the future if it is not in the premises?

Maybe, intuition has nothing to do about the future but more to do about our thinking process. maybe a process between guessing and knowing. At least that my intuition about intuition.

Take care

Lawrence



from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group, Sunday meeting: Intuition



Thursday, March 05, 2009

from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group, Sunday meeting: Do we have an absolute right to have children? + Thursday Tertulia

Dear firends,

Because of the football match last Sunday we did not have the meeting.

Next time this happens, and it will happen again, give me a call to let you know where we are.

So this Sunday we will try and have the meeting with the same topic: Do we have an absolute right to have children?

In the meantime Ignacio has asked me to send you this message about the Thursday Tertulia in Moore’s, apologies buit I could not send the email earlier:

Dear Lawrence,

Considering it could be of interest for you and for some of our Philomadrid friends, I would also ask you to inform/remind them about the Thursday's tertulia.

And just as an attendant of that (self-organized) tertulia invite you and the rest of Philomadrid friends to have a good time at the Thursday's tertulia besides the one we have granted on Sundays!

Every Thursday, from 19:30 to 21h, at Moore’s Irish Pub, c/ Barceló 1 (metro Tribunal).

http://sites.google.com/site/tertuliainenglishmadrid/

Email: tertuliainenglish@gmail.com

Thanks, and see you on Sunday!

Ignacio


Take care and see you Sunday

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Lawrence JC Baron
c/ Irlanda 7-1a
Madrid 28019
Spain
tel: +34 606081813
email: lawmoment@gmail.com / ljcbcomm@yahoo.co.uk
blog: lawlang.blogspot.com and lawmoment.blogspot.com
IF YOU DON’T GET AN EMAIL BY FRIDAY PLEASE LET ME KNOW


+++++++++MEETING DETAILS+++++++++
SUNDAY 6.00pm – 8.30pm at Molly Malone's Pub, probably downstairs----
-Email: philomadrid@yahoo.co.uk
-Yahoo group >> philomadridgroup-subscribe@yahoogroups.co.uk <
-Old essays: www.geocities.com/philomadrid
- Blog: http://philomadrid.blogspot.com/
-Group photos: http://picasaweb.google.com/photosphilo
-My tel 606081813
-metro: Bilbao : buses: 21, 149, 147
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Dimas Taxi service: mobile 627 219 316 email dimasobregon@hotmail.com

TINA Flat http://picasaweb.google.co.uk/photosphilo/TINAFLAT

**********HOLIDAY FLATS**********
Mayte; Almería (Villa de Níjar); http://picasaweb.google.com/photosphilo/HOLIDAY_FLAT_mayte_AlmerAVillaDeNJar
*************************************



from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group, Sunday meeting: Do we have an absolute right to have children? + Thursday Tertulia







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