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A couple of philosophical conundrums I've been mulling over Watch

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    Philosophical conundrum 1:
    to give some context to this I'm going to tell a quick story. Me and my sister were talking about violent video games and whether or not they cause children/young people to be violent in real life. She said they do and I said they don't. After a couple of minutes she got fed up and told me that it was her opinion that video games cause young people to be violent and that it was mine that they don't. She said that she respected my opinion and asked me to respect hers. Here's where the conundrum comes in: I started thinking about opinions and beliefs and concluded that an opinion is a statement that's true for you but not necessarily for anyone else (a personal truth if you will) whereas a belief (assuming it's correct) is universally true. In other words, an opinion can't be supported or refuted whereas a belief can and I think my sister was conflating the two. I tried arguing that beliefs should be scrutinised and that there was little point holding those that didn't hold water. I took it to the extreme and gave the hypothetical that if I one day said that it was my opinion that all Muslims are terrorists (the point was that this is blatantly wrong and has negative consequences) and started changing my behavior around that "opinion" (for example by calling for Muslims to be banned from the country, attacking them etc). I asked would you challenge me on that "opinion". She just told me to shut up but I wrote it here to give you guys a better idea of what I was thinking. My point is that you shouldn't try to refute someone's opinion because definition you can't, but you should scrutinise your beliefs and those of others because (in my opinion) doing so is good for society. Something else I want to add that I feel is important, is that it is my opinion that this is good for society however it is my belief that this will do good when you define good in the way that I do. I make this distinction because it can be universally refuted or supported as to if this will do good according to my definition however the statement "this will do good" can't because part of supporting or refuting it involves defining good and different people define it differently i.e. different people have different opinions about what good is.

    Philosophical conundrum 2:
    Again I start with a story. I was talking with my economics teacher about ethics. He said something in class about condemning those who took part in the slave trade when it was legal. I said that I didn't think you could. I started off by saying that morals are relative (in that it is my opinion that there is no objective morality and that to have morality a group of people must agree of moral standards. Also different groups of people can agree on different moral standards and they can also change over time.) I said that if we judge people in the past according to our morals and not theirs then (assuming you don't assume an assumption I'll explain in a minute) people in the future should be able to judge us according their moral standards (which are probably different to ours). I said that if in 5, 10, 50 even 100 or 200 years in the future libertarianism is the dominant political ideology and assuming I grow up to be a tax collector or to be somsone who penalises those who don't pay their taxes, I don't want those libertarians condemning me for (as they see it) stealing from UK citizens. Basically I don't want to be paranoid about doing things that people (however far or near) in the future will condemn me for due to different moral standards. It follows then that to be intellectually honest with myself and with others, I shouldn't condemn those who took part in the salve trade because when they did so it was morally ok and they didn't know any better. However there is one (albeit problematic) way of getting around this. You assume that in some way our moral standards today are superior to those of the past or the future. The thing is that any society in any time period would be just as justified in holding that assumption and therefore you should assume that everyone across time holds that assumption and when you do the situation becomes problematic. Also, as a side point this applies to other cultures living today as well as people in the past or future. For example if there is a group of people living today that all agree having long hair is wrong, we can't judge them with the opinion long hair is ok and they can't judge us with the opinion that it's not.

    These may not be conundrums per se but I thought they were interesting and I'm interested what you guys think.
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    (Original post by mrsuperguy)
    Philosophical conundrum 1

    Philosophical conundrum 2
    Sorry for taking out the stories, this was a little smoother to format!

    I agree with you to an extent on the second conundrum, but I think it depends on the context it's applied to. For example with the slave trade, people were hurt, and I think it would be a hard push not to at least partially condemn that. Yes, maybe it was common practise at the time, but that's not the same as them not knowing better - clearly some people did, or we'd still be in that situation today!

    With the first scenario, however I'm not sure I entirely follow your logic. Opinions and beliefs are essentially synonyms of one another, and you can certainly refute someone's opinion by providing evidence to the contrary, but I may be missing something here?
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    So about the opinion/belief thing"
    An example of an opinion might be (I'm deliberately being extreme here) that all Muslims are bad. You can't support if refute that until you define bad and why they might or might not be bad and also because for one person whats 'bad' might be different to another person. If you think that saving people's lives is bad then you likely think the same of doctors. If you think that a doctor's job is to kill people then you're just wrong. An equivalent belief (which can be supported or refuted) is that all Muslims are terrorists. The definition of a terrorist is transcendent of anyone's personal feelings.

    Now about the slave trade:
    Honestly i just disagree with you. I admit i made the assumption that at the time society en masse thought it was ok. Given that assumption, i see no way to tell what things that society accepts today that x time from now it won't, from those things that society accepts and will always accept. Similarly i wouldn't want to be charged with a crime i committed before said crime was actually a crime. I can't tell what things that are currently legal will become illegal in the future.

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    (Original post by shadowdweller)
    With the first scenario, however I'm not sure I entirely follow your logic. Opinions and beliefs are essentially synonyms of one another, and you can certainly refute someone's opinion by providing evidence to the contrary, but I may be missing something here?
    I don't think opinions and beliefs are the same thing.

    A belief is a statement that you think is factually true (and you may be correct or incorrect about it). For example, "I believe that God exists".

    An opinion is a description of how you personally feel about something. Other people may feel differently, but there is no "correct" or "incorrect" way to feel about it. For example, if I say "football is fun to watch", it's an opinion. It might be fun for me to watch, but it might not be for someone else.
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    (Original post by tazarooni89)
    I don't think opinions and beliefs are the same thing.

    A belief is a statement that you think is factually true (and you may be correct or incorrect about it). For example, "I believe that God exists".

    An opinion is a description of how you personally feel about something. Other people may feel differently, but there is no "correct" or "incorrect" way to feel about it. For example, if I say "football is fun to watch", it's an opinion. It might be fun for me to watch, but it might not be for someone else.
    Thanks for that. You've perfectly articulated what i was trying to say.

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    (Original post by mrsuperguy)
    These may not be conundrums per se but I thought they were interesting and I'm interested what you guys think.
    I think this is a very interesting area of philosophy, in fact I just made a thread about "what do you believe in?"

    I do see the difference between opinion and belief, just not sure it's exactly how you articulated it. Opinions are more like judgements of the world, seeing things and commenting from our perspectives. Beliefs are like expressions of personal intention/action e.g. I believe that if I work hard I will get somewhere in life. An opinion would be more like 'working hard is good', 'if you don't work hard you are letting society down'

    I think you can't criticise beliefs but you can opinions. Similarly you shouldn't have to justify beliefs to anyone apart from yourself, but you may need to justify your opinions (if spoken aloud).

    I agree with you on the second 'conundrum'.

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    I think there are too many unknowns in the second issue.

    Perhaps you would need to simplify it by considering the Law and even then Law has a plethora of branches.

    Simply put there are groups within groups and even individuals have their own moral compass and so a bar is set by the law which disregards all such beliefs (to an extent) with the aim of adapting to society as a whole and thus morality by country is adjusted within the law.

    Because no single one individual can ever hope to proselytise everyone and impose their own beliefs on them (British empire took 1/3 of the world, America is and has been the superpower of the world for 100 years, the greeks and Romans also did well, the Mongols, essentially a lot of cutlures, groups and races have done well but I don't think any have taken over the world). So they do their very best to reach an equilibrium, which again is set by the law.

    As the equilibrium changes for the past and future we can argue that we are superior however we can never compare our standards to theirs we can only assume we are superior should we meet our own standards. Our situations are different and thus we cannot hope to state that we are better simply because we have been awarded the opportunity to be what we think is better. E.g. we're better because we don't sell as many humans.

    Our target morality must be met in order to assume we are better than those generations who did not meet theirs and because the target morality can almost never be met, because of individuals causing issues (let's assume the ideologies behind the Pareto criterion), the fact that law also changes (although slowly), and a few other variables, we are all unfit to assume we are superior. Because truth be told we are the same, will be the same and have always been the same, unable to reach the top of the staircase but every generation starts a stair higher

    This analysis is focused on countries and their past as well as future, it would be even more unreasonable to include the whole world, as I said, too many unknowns. However, you can compare countries using the same Idea of morality being relative it might just be difficult.

    It's a difficult question tbh aha

    Nevertheless, I don't agree with your statement that societies can just justify it because of their opinion, it needs to be proved. Furthermore, your hair example is confusing, isn't that more to do with ethics?
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    i disagree
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    (Original post by p29)
    i disagree
    With which conundrum? :ninja:
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    (Original post by tazarooni89)
    I don't think opinions and beliefs are the same thing.

    A belief is a statement that you think is factually true (and you may be correct or incorrect about it). For example, "I believe that God exists".

    An opinion is a description of how you personally feel about something. Other people may feel differently, but there is no "correct" or "incorrect" way to feel about it. For example, if I say "football is fun to watch", it's an opinion. It might be fun for me to watch, but it might not be for someone else.
    I can see an argument there too, but I think that's different to how the OP was using them saying 'all Muslims are terrorists' could be classed as that person's belief or their opinion, but in either instance it can be disputed with evidence :holmes:

    In a sense, I'd suggest that beliefs are strong opinions, though it's not quite as simple as that, of course.
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    (Original post by shadowdweller)
    I can see an argument there too, but I think that's different to how the OP was using them saying 'all Muslims are terrorists' could be classed as that person's belief or their opinion, but in either instance it can be disputed with evidence :holmes:
    I think the OP was making a distinction between saying "all Muslims are bad" (an opinion), and "all Muslims are terrorists" (a belief).

    Whether a Muslim (or indeed anything) is good or bad depends on how one feels about it. If I like something I will say it is good, but you may dislike it and say it is bad. Neither of us would be correct or incorrect, they're just our different emotional reactions to the same thing.

    But whether or not a Muslim (or any other person) is a terrorist is a matter of universal fact. They either are or they aren't, regardless of how anyone feels about it. In this case it's a belief which is either correct or incorrect, depending on the evidence.

    In a sense, I'd suggest that beliefs are strong opinions, though it's not quite as simple as that, of course.
    In what sense do you mean that?
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    (Original post by tazarooni89)
    I think the OP was making a distinction between saying "all Muslims are bad" (an opinion), and "all Muslims are terrorists" (a belief).
    That is exactly what I meant!
    Something I want to convey as well (that I'm not sure I did that well in the original post) is that opinions by their very nature can't (and therefore shouldn't) be critiqued whereas all beliefs should be subject to critique. I say that all beliefs should be subject to critique because I believe that the world is the best place it can be when everyone's beliefs are as informed and accurate as possible because this allows everyone to reliably act in their own self interests.
    Also, when it comes to dealing with the issues that come from many people having opinions such as "All Muslims are bad" is by debunking the associated beliefs. In this case it might be "All Muslims oppress women" or "All Muslims are terrorists". The idea being that once these beliefs are debunked, the opinion will go away as well even though you haven't directly touched it.
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    I think conundrum 1 boils down to whether you are dealing with an empirical issue or not or whether it is purely personal or not. Whether video games cause violence is empirical and so this belief/opinion is open to critique via evidence. Stating your favourite flavour of ice-cream is vanilla is personal and so someone's else's opinion is irrelevant. A non-empirical question is not open to critique.

    Conundrum 2 depends not on the morality of the practices of the past, but of the principles. For example, if someone from the past claimed to be benevolent to all people but then kept or traded slaves, then you can rightly criticise them. But you are right that moral standards change. A few hundred years ago you would be laughed out of town for wanting humane treatment for animals, you now that is quite mainstream, although still open to much debate. Our ethical sphere has generally expanded over time to include women, children, other races, and animals and seems set to continue to do so.

    But you have to be careful not to let that mean that anything goes right now. To avoid that you have to define your moral principles, then see if you are consistent with them.
 
 
 
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