PHILOMADRID

PhiloMadrid - Pub Philosophy Meetings in Madrid

Friday, May 31, 2013

from Lawrence, Sunday PhiloMadrid meeting: Do we have the society we want?


Dear friends,

This week we are discussing: Do we have the society we want?

To be honest with you I doubt if there are many people who would want the society we live in. Having said that, we can also assume that someone must be benefitting handsomely from the society we have. I would also conjecture that whilst we are busy trying to figure out what society we want, a few others are busy getting what they want from us.

In the meantime, Ruel has sent us an essay:
Hi Lawrence,
Here is the link to the essay I wrote but the problem is I forgot the topic title and I don´t know if what I wrote is exactly the topic we decided on last Sunday. :D

Hasta luego.

Best Lawrence


Lawrence: 606081813
PhiloMadrid Meeting
Meet 6:30pm
Centro Segoviano
Alburquerque, 14
28010 Madrid
914457935
Metro: Bilbao

-----------Ignacio------------
Thursday's Open Tertulia in English
Important Notice: From December 1st, the Tertulia will take place at O'Donnells (ex-Moore's) Irish
Pub, c/ Barceló 1 (metro Tribunal)







Friday, May 24, 2013

from Lawrence, Sunday PhiloMadrid meeting: Fear


Dear friends,

This Sunday we are discussing a topic that we have not only experienced in our life but also something we experience practically every day: Fear.

Ruel has written an essay for us, link below, and I have also written a few ideas. 

Hello Lawrence,
Here´s is the link to the essay I came up with for Sunday´s PhiloMadrid topic.
Thank you and see you on Sunday.

------ Lawrence------Fear
Fear is the most powerful tool governments have at their disposal. What's attractive about fear is that it is a biological phenomenon, and therefore neutral and amoral, it works all the time, it is very cheap to employ, very effective and, most relevant of all, very expensive for the victim to avoid.

But it is the last characteristic of fear, costly for the victim, which makes it a tool of choice in politics. The way fear is used in politics will determine whether society functions as a free society or a slave society. And as I want to show this matters.

In the state of nature, fear functions to protect us from danger, for example fear of predators, fear of dangerous situations. And like the other emotion, pain, the purpose seems to be to spur us to act to remove the fear or the pain. In both pain and fear the priority is always to stop the pain and fear. The immediate casual effect of fear is to create an unstable state of affairs for the victim.

The reason why I started with fear in a political setting is because politics is the ultimate test of civilisation and reason of human society. But since politics is both the cradle and the guardian of a civilized society, it is always worth exploring how valid is this claim that political power is a necessary force in a society. Furthermore, politics is hardly a state of nature, but fear (and pain) have not exactly disappeared with the advent of society and civilization. Indeed they still occupy a central place in our lives and therefore safe to assume that the also feature prominently in our political life. Fear, of course, can be both from physical danger and psychological pressure.

Modern society, unlike prehistoric societies, functions on cooperation and mutual respect. There are no real genetic ties between those who govern and those governed - the ratio is insignificant. So we cannot argue that society functions because of family genetic links at least not in a society of millions of members. 

Two conditions that help society to function are: a political system and cooperation amongst the members of society. But cooperation does not necessarily mean that the outcome is what we deserve, maybe not even fairly deserve. At the very best we can say that cooperation functions because it establishes equilibrium in a dynamic system. This implies that we really have to question the implied positive feature in the meaning of cooperation. Cooperation does not have an inherent sense of being positive. 

So are there any conditions that would make cooperation a just or fair cooperation? One of these conditions is that parties to a cooperative endeavour must have a dynamic process based on equal strength. One party cannot have a dominant position over the other party. And the reason an unequal position of parties is bound to create fear in the weak party. This also goes a long way to explain why philosophers have been so preoccupied with free will and responsibility. Fear takes away free will, but not necessarily responsibility. 

I have already rejected the idea that cooperation does not automatically imply a positive meaning. In other words cooperation is not automatically something that brings good to us or what I will call categorical good. Basically, a categorical good is something that brings us only benefit (when used properly) or mostly good: water is a good example of a categorical good; someone who receives water when they are thirsty it will mostly be good for them.

However, the outcome of cooperation is always a balanced state of affairs i.e. cooperation is a causal factor for equilibrium. When two parties cooperate to reach an endeavour both parties stand to benefit; at least that's the theory. This should not be mixed up with altruism. When we buy a bottle of water, we are cooperating with the company to pay our money in return for potable water. But equilibrium, at least in the short term, can also be achieved with coerced acquiescence.

In common language we can say that a biological system that is in a state of equilibrium is in a stable state. And there is nothing more valuable to a society than stability. But this does not tell us anything about how this stability was achieved. Stability is a state of affairs in nature and not morality.

But if cooperation is not by default necessarily something that's good for us, then neither does it follow that a stable society is by default a fair and just society.

What matters for nature is the outcome and not the reasons - what matters for society is stability and not chaos or uncertainty. Indeed the society that can overcome uncertainty will thrive because it can plan and predict the future. But what matters for parties on a cooperative endeavour is equality and therefore reason and fairness. And presumably the costs are equally shared amongst the parties as much as the benefits.

But why should someone want to share the costs and the benefits of a cooperative endeavour, when they can pass on the costs to the other party and enjoy all the benefits for themselves?  Indeed fear, being a neutral and amoral emotion, is very cheap to employ, as I said, very effective, and most important of all very expensive for the victim to escape.

To demonstrate that fear is very cheap to employ but expensive to escape, we can take a very neutral hypothetical example of someone with a serious infection. The costs of diagnosing the infections is relatively cheap compared with the treatment and the consequences of the disease.

A question we have to ask is this: is a stable society the product of a cooperative endeavour or the employment of fear? Some might argue that this is an empirical question that has to be answered by some empirical investigation. 

Whatever else we can say about this question, it is indeed a valid philosophical question, because as I have argued, if stability is achieved through acquiescence as a consequence of fear, this would imply an inherent unstable outcome. Unstable because it is also our instinct to try and escape fear and pain. Indeed fear creates an unstable dynamic in a biological system; this is verified with all the revolutions and freedom wars throughout history.

If we look at history we can safely conclude that a society governed through fear might be profitable for a few in the short term, but in the end that society is already determined to fail. Politics power based on fear is unstable politics.

Best Lawrence


Lawrence: 606081813
PhiloMadrid Meeting
Meet 6:30pm
Centro Segoviano
Alburquerque, 14
28010 Madrid
914457935
Metro: Bilbao

-----------Ignacio------------
Thursday's Open Tertulia in English
Important Notice: From December 1st, the Tertulia will take place at O'Donnells (ex-Moore's) Irish
Pub, c/ Barceló 1 (metro Tribunal)








Friday, May 17, 2013

from Lawrence, Sunday PhiloMadrid meeting: No Meeting this Sunday + apologies having issues with mailing list

NB:  I had to use an old mailing list dating back to 8 April  because I am having issues with my email client - so apologies if you received this email and  you asked me to remove you from the list and apologies if you are not included in the list!

Dear Friends,

This Sunday we are not having a meeting because of a function at the Centro.

This week until the 23 May there is a programme of Semana del Abrazo which is a Semana de Hermanamiento between Segovia and Extremadura: you can find details at this link if you are interested.

In the meantime we will be discussing Fear on the 26th May.

Best and have a good week,

Lawrence

Lawrence: 606081813
PhiloMadrid Meeting
Meet 6:30pm
Centro Segoviano
Alburquerque, 14
28010 Madrid
914457935
Metro: Bilbao

-----------Ignacio------------
Thursday's Open Tertulia in English
Important Notice: From December 1st, the Tertulia will take place at O'Donnells (ex-Moore's) Irish
Pub, c/ Barceló 1 (metro Tribunal)







Thursday, May 16, 2013

Thursday, May 09, 2013

from Lawrence, Sunday PhiloMadrid meeting: Do we have property rights to human rights? + news today

Maths meeting today Thursday at 7pm, details below

Dear Friends,

Last Sunday we decided to postpone the discussion on Rights for this Sunday: Do we have property
rights to human rights?

Ruel prepared an essay for us with the link here:

Here's the link to my essay on the topic "Do we have property rights to human rights?"

http://ruelfpepa.wordpress.com/2013/04/30/do-we-have-property-rights-to-human-rights/

-------TODAY THURSDAY___
Estimada amiga, estimado amigo,
Por si fuera de interés te anunciamos la conferencia del prof. Fernando Bombal David Hilbert: la
búsqueda de la certidumbre el próximo Jueves 9 de mayo a las 19.00 en la Real Academia de Ciencias.
La relevancia del tema y la amenidad y claridad expositiva del ponente la hacen muy recomendable.
Saludos cordiales,
Tertulia de Matemáticas
https://sites.google.com/site/tertuliadematematicas/


best Lawrence

Lawrence: 606081813
Blog: http://philomadrid.blogspot.com.es/
PhiloMadrid Meeting
Meet 6:30pm
Centro Segoviano
Alburquerque, 14
28010 Madrid
914457935
Metro: Bilbao

-----------Ignacio------------
Thursday's Open Tertulia in English
Important Notice: From December 1st, the Tertulia will take place at O'Donnells (ex-Moore's) Irish
Pub, c/ Barceló 1 (metro Tribunal)
http://sites.google.com/site/tertuliainenglishmadrid/

Do we have property rights to human rights?

The concept of property right brings with it the idea of conferment of some kind on privilege.
Usually that privilege is the use of something that belongs to us how we wish, even if in reality
there are social limits. These limits also include legal limits. A property right means that can use
something that belongs to us, give it away and even sell it.

But there is another feature about a property right that would make it, in my opinion, a key feature
for property rights to function. Property rights are protected by society usually through a legal
system. Civil law protects us when we come to use and dispose of our property. And criminal law when
we are deprived of our property. These two principles are well established in a civilized society.

What also matters is that my personal property right to enjoy my property seems to impose on society
the burden of protecting my rights. And like me enjoying my property, the rest of society has the
same privileges. And the system seems to work well for computers, money, and other gadgets.

One drawback of the present property rights system is that it does not investigate too much how we
acquire our properties. Sure there are rules regarding the sale of stolen goods, but beyond the
obvious, the investigation becomes cumbersome. For example, when we go to the newsagent to buy a
copy of a newspaper no investigation is carried out whether the money we use is stolen or
legitimately acquired.

It seems that the more we move away from tangible goods to moral property such as money,
intellectual property, labour services etc the more complex the rights system becomes. Nevertheless,
for any system of property rights to function it is a necessary that there should be a system to
protect our property.

Human rights are a different type of right mainly because the consensus today is that we acquire
these rights by virtue of being human. Unlike human rights, there is no automatic access to
property. Theoretically, we all have the whole package of human rights, theoretically we cannot give
them away, unlike property rights, so we can always enjoy the privileges of being a human being.
Theoretically these are protected by a legal and social system like property rights.

One of the main differences between human rights and property rights is that one needs to have
property to have these rights protected. But human rights are conferred on us by virtue of being
human and that means more than 4 billion people today. And that's a lot of property rights to
protect and guarantee, compared to property rights.

In a way, we do not have property rights to our human rights for the simple reason that human rights
cannot be traded; I cannot enter into a contract for money in exchange for not exercising my right
to free speech. Which of course makes it easy for governments to take away human rights since all it
takes is oppression. Property rights are first and foremost an economic instrument; and it seems
that the more we can ascertain the value of our property the more we can have it protected. A grab
on private property would today be more costly for governments, especially if they seek to attract
foreign investments. It might be argued, therefore, that human rights have no monitory value, and at
best they impose moral obligations on society (and by definition governments) to protect our human
rights.

Unfortunately, I would argue that we do have property rights in our human rights, at least in
principle, and therefore by implication society does have more than just a moral obligation to
protect our human rights.

The basis for arguing that we do have property rights in our human rights is the same basis for
arguing that I have a property rights in my computer. Both have monetary value. It has been argued
that the failure of the communist system of the Soviet Union, demonstrates, by default that
(private) property rights do exist. This argument is also used to establish the superiority of
capitalism. However, whatever capitalism means, it does not involve the destruction of wealth.

So how can human rights be economic instruments and therefore have monetary value? This question has
been answered in part by Karl Marx by suggesting that labour is like a commodity that can be traded
on the market place for money. It is also a fact, however, that our property, whether it is an oil
field or a computer, has value because other human beings are prepared to recognise a value in it
and more importantly they are prepared to pay real money for it.

Thus if society protects our property rights, since property has value for us, then surely society
must protect our human rights since, not only because our labour has a monetary value for us
personally (a point that is conveniently forgotten by so called communists) but more importantly we
are the only source of wealth in society (a point that is conveniently forgotten by so call
capitalists). I can assure you that my pet gerbil will never pay over one thousand Euros for a
personal computer and therefore a 100 percent profit mark up! Wealth is created because human beings
value the products and services provided by labour services.

The bottom line is that what we call human right abuse, is none other than property right theft. And
the reason why our human rights have to be protected and guaranteed by society, as if they had
property rights, is because it is human beings who guarantee social wealth through the application
of labour. And failure to protect our human rights is a theft of our ability to offer our labour in
the market place.

Best Lawrence





from Lawrence, Sunday PhiloMadrid meeting: Do we have property rights to human rights? + news today





.

Friday, May 03, 2013

from Lawrence, Sunday PhiloMadrid meeting: Do we have property rights to human rights? + news

Dear Friends,

En primer lugar, gracias Encarna para un comida maravillosa el Domingo. La filosofia siguiente era
mas mejor que nunca!!

In the meantime this Sunday we are discussing: Do we have property rights to human rights?

Ruel prepared an essay for us with the link here:

Here's the link to my essay on the topic "Do we have property rights to human rights?"

http://ruelfpepa.wordpress.com/2013/04/30/do-we-have-property-rights-to-human-rights/

And you will find my short contribution at the end of the email.

In the meantime Ben asked me a few days ago that he is looking for a Spanish teacher. Can you please
write to him directly if you can help:
Ben : Ben.Milner(AT)bg-group.com


best Lawrence

Lawrence: 606081813
Blog: http://philomadrid.blogspot.com.es/
PhiloMadrid Meeting
Meet 6:30pm
Centro Segoviano
Alburquerque, 14
28010 Madrid
914457935
Metro: Bilbao

-----------Ignacio------------
Thursday's Open Tertulia in English
Important Notice: From December 1st, the Tertulia will take place at O'Donnells (ex-Moore's) Irish
Pub, c/ Barceló 1 (metro Tribunal)
http://sites.google.com/site/tertuliainenglishmadrid/

Do we have property rights to human rights?

The concept of property right brings with it the idea of conferment of some kind on privilege.
Usually that privilege is the use of something that belongs to us how we wish, even if in reality
there are social limits. These limits also include legal limits. A property right means that can use
something that belongs to us, give it away and even sell it.

But there is another feature about a property right that would make it, in my opinion, a key feature
for property rights to function. Property rights are protected by society usually through a legal
system. Civil law protects us when we come to use and dispose of our property. And criminal law when
we are deprived of our property. These two principles are well established in a civilized society.

What also matters is that my personal property right to enjoy my property seems to impose on society
the burden of protecting my rights. And like me enjoying my property, the rest of society has the
same privileges. And the system seems to work well for computers, money, and other gadgets.

One drawback of the present property rights system is that it does not investigate too much how we
acquire our properties. Sure there are rules regarding the sale of stolen goods, but beyond the
obvious, the investigation becomes cumbersome. For example, when we go to the newsagent to buy a
copy of a newspaper no investigation is carried out whether the money we use is stolen or
legitimately acquired.

It seems that the more we move away from tangible goods to moral property such as money,
intellectual property, labour services etc the more complex the rights system becomes. Nevertheless,
for any system of property rights to function it is a necessary that there should be a system to
protect our property.

Human rights are a different type of right mainly because the consensus today is that we acquire
these rights by virtue of being human. Unlike property rights, there is no automatic access to
property. Theoretically, we all have the whole package of human rights, theoretically we cannot give
them away, unlike property rights, so we can always enjoy the privileges of being a human being.
Theoretically these are protected by a legal and social system like property rights.

One of the main differences between human rights and property rights is that one needs to have
property to have these rights protected. But human rights are conferred on us by virtue of being
human and that means more than 4 billion people today. And that's a lot of property rights to
protect and guarantee, compared to property rights.

In a way, we do not have property rights to our human rights for the simple reason that human rights
cannot be traded; I cannot enter into a contract for money in exchange for not exercising my right
to free speech. Which of course makes it easy for governments to take away human rights since all it
takes is oppression. Property rights are first and foremost an economic instrument; and it seems
that the more we can ascertain the value of our property the more we can have it protected. A grab
on private property would today be more costly for governments, especially if they seek to attract
foreign investments. It might be argued, therefore, that human rights have no monitory value, and at
best they impose moral obligations on society (and by definition governments) to protect our human
rights.

Unfortunately, I would argue that we do have property rights in our human rights, at least in
principle, and therefore by implication society does have more than just a moral obligation to
protect our human rights.

The basis for arguing that we do have property rights in our human rights is the same basis for
arguing that I have a property right in my computer. Both have monetary value. It has been argued
that the failure of the communist system of the Soviet Union, demonstrates, by default that
(private) property rights do exist. This argument is also used to establish the superiority of
capitalism. However, whatever capitalism means, it does not involve the destruction of wealth.

So how can human rights be economic instruments and therefore have monetary value? This question has
been answered in part by Karl Marx by suggesting that labour is like a commodity that can be traded
on the market place for money. It is also a fact, however, that our property, whether it is an oil
field or a computer, has value because other human beings are prepared to recognise a value in it
and more importantly they are prepared to pay real money for it.

Thus if society protects our property rights, since property has value for us, then surely society
must protect our human rights since, not only because our labour has a monetary value for us
personally (a point that is conveniently forgotten by so called communists) but more importantly we
are the only source of wealth in society (a point that is conveniently forgotten by so call
capitalists). I can assure you that my pet gerbil will never pay over one thousand Euros for a
personal computer and therefore a 100 percent profit mark up! Wealth is created because human beings
value the products and services provided by labour services.

The bottom line is that what we call human right abuse, is none other than property right theft. And
the reason why our human rights have to be protected and guaranteed by society, as if they had
property rights, is because it is human beings who guarantee social wealth through the application
of labour. And failure to protect our human rights is a theft of our ability to offer our labour in
the market place.

Best Lawrence





from Lawrence, Sunday PhiloMadrid meeting: Do we have property rights to human rights? + news

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