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Author Topic:   Death Penalty and Stanley Tookie Williams
Inactive Member

Message 13 of 166 (268765)
12-13-2005 11:26 AM
Reply to: Message 10 by Silent H
12-13-2005 10:08 AM

Re: My changed mind
I agree, but the argument that since there are errors execution must be done away with is an extreme position.

It's actually a very reasonable position. False execution is a moral outrage of a greater degree than not executing, but still punishing, a criminal who deserves it. On the other hand, false imprisonment is not a significantly greater moral outrage than the outrage of not imprisoning criminals who deserve it.

It really is just that simple. It's a quite simple moral calculus.

A postponement of death penalties makes sense until new evidentiary rules are set in so that mistakes will not be made again. That is not impossible.

I've never understood what allows you to say that. The idea that there's an evidentiary standard that can lead to absolute certainty is certainly not a self-evident position, nor is it indicated by any evidence or argument. In fact the opposite is true - the fact that we don't now employ such an evidentiary standard in any field is evidence that no such standard exists.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 10 by Silent H, posted 12-13-2005 10:08 AM Silent H has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 15 by Silent H, posted 12-13-2005 12:25 PM crashfrog has responded
 Message 16 by macaroniandcheese, posted 12-13-2005 1:14 PM crashfrog has not yet responded

Inactive Member

Message 17 of 166 (268819)
12-13-2005 1:37 PM
Reply to: Message 15 by Silent H
12-13-2005 12:25 PM

Re: My changed mind
[qss]Did you mean to say that imprisonment is at least a punishment for a criminal, but if found false would be a lesser outrage than a false execution?[/qs]

I meant to say exactly what I did say. Some crimes deserve the death penalty, in my mind. It's a moral outrage to withhold that penalty when it is deserved, just as it's a moral outrage anytime justice is not done.

But the outrage of a lesser sentence than is deserved is much less than the outrage of execution when it is not deserved, not least of which because no one ever stands trial for the murder of a falsely executed man.

"Does not compute?" Seems perfectly obvious to me. Can you help me understand where you're having the difficulty? I'm perfectly willing to accept that you perform the moral calculus with different values than I do; but that shouldn't lead you to criticise my position as "extreme" when, in fact, it's a perfectly reasonable and pragmatic compromise between two moral outrages.

Shouldn't we then be arguing that there should be nothing but fines?

No, because the moral outrage of false imprisonment is less than the moral outrage of never imprisoning anyone who deserves it.

It's a simple comparison, Holmes.

It ended with me defining a process after everyone challenged me to present one, and someone saying it was actually pretty good yet all my critics nowhere to be found.

You ended up with a process with evidentiary standards that, by definition, could never be met; and thus, you wound up with a situation in which the death penalty could never be given.

In other words, you came over to my side. What was I supposed to argue with? You surrendered.

Absolute practical certainty is all that is necessary for executions to be operated and fulfill their practical role.

"Absolute practical certainty"? It's not self-evident that such a thing is possible. By definition, in fact, it would appear that if your certainty was "practical", then it could not be "absolute".

If there was solid direct evidence (not merely circumstantial) of a murder being commited by a specific person, and that person readily admits to the murder, and consents to the death penalty... what is the problem with execution in that instance?

The problem is that they may not be guilty, merely suicidal and extremely unlucky, and it's not the purpose of the state to employ the apparatus of justice and allow a murderer to go free in order to help someone commit suicide.

It's pretty simple, to my mind.

The fact that we do not have something now in no way at all provides evidence that no such standard exists. That falls directly under the "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence" umbrella.

It is, nontheless, suggestive that an entire community of persons - several communities, in fact - with a vested interest and explicit mandate to develop systems for the gathering of reliable evidence, and working for centuries, have not been able to develop such a system - in fact, have succeeded only in developing explanations for why such a system cannot exist.

But I suppose that's not enough for you. For Holmes, the absence of evidence plus the evidence of absence are still not enough to actually conclude absence. Still holding out for a perpetual motion machine, as well?

It is my guess that you do not deny the holocaust happened. And indeed it is my guess that during the 1940s (if you were in the US) you would not be questioning whether Nazi germany should be fought and its agents killed when found.

While the crimes of the Nazis certainly deserved death, I don't see how I could advance the argument I did above and believe that Nazi war criminals should have been executed. And I do not have "absolute practical certainty" (whatever that could possibly be) that the Holocaust happened, merely a tentative conclusion that it did.

War will almost inherently mean the loss of innocent lives.

War is a crime so bad there's no law against it, as Terry Pratchet once said; but at least, war is symmetrical. (Or it should be.) Two armies clash with nothing but their skill at arms and the genius of their tactics, and a fair bit of luck, to determine the victor.

But what hope does one man have when the full force of government apparatus is arrayed against him? War gives you a chance, at least.

But it's a good question. In general, I don't support wars. I can't imagine a single thing worth going to war over. But sometimes force must be used to repel force, violence is sometimes the appropriate answer to violence. Defense, in my mind, is the only appropriate use of violence. But self-defense by the state generally isn't the rationale for the death penalty.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 15 by Silent H, posted 12-13-2005 12:25 PM Silent H has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 20 by Silent H, posted 12-13-2005 3:02 PM crashfrog has responded

Inactive Member

Message 24 of 166 (268873)
12-13-2005 4:11 PM
Reply to: Message 20 by Silent H
12-13-2005 3:02 PM

Re: My changed mind
No one serves time for the imprisonment of and innocent man either. You are correct that there is some measure of injustice within our justice system, which rewards convictions and not necessarily justice.

I agree. Naturally, though, I'd be nervous about punishing prosecutors for overzealous prosecution, for fear of sending a chilling effect. Moreover the role of the prosecutor is not to make official findings of facts, but to bring indictments where they feel they are justified. Fact-finding is a role of the courts. If an innocent man goes to jail, it was the fault of the jury, not the prosecutor.

What would you think about the idea of expert juries?

There are errors within the facts and the logic.

There are not. I dismissed your "arguments" because they're prima fascie ridiculous, and contradicted by fact. I've given you the framework I use to determine which outcome is the greatest moral outrage; you may value outrages differently than I do, which is your perogative. But the idea that there could be a "flaw" in what is essentially a simple comparison of outrages is risible on the face of it.

One outcome is a greater outrage to me than another. To suggest then that there's a "flaw" in reasoning that we should adopt the outcome that leads to the smaller of the two outrages is simply nonsense.

I think you may be equivocating between imprisoning and punishing. Being fined is still a punishment... or how about simple house arrest?

I'm not equivocating. The outrage is not that the criminal was not punished at all, it's that he was punished to a lesser degree than his crime justly deserves.

I'm fully aware that alternatives to imprisonment exist. Like a reasonable person I see these alternatives on a continuum of severity, like so:

1) execution by torture
2) painless execution
3) maiming
4) imprisonment
5) house arrest
6) seizure of property

Obviously, there are other things that could go on this list; it's not an exhaustive example.

It doesn't seem to me that "the outrage of a lesser sentence than is deserved is much less then the outrage of imprisonment when it is not deserved" is inconsistent with the logic you are using... unless you are going to be arbitrary.

It doesn't seem to me that it's inconsistent, either. I'm glad we agree.

Yeah, even killers asking to be killed exists.

Sure. But even innocent people who wish to commit suicide exist. And people who confess to crimes they did not commit, and never recanted, exist. And people who are willing, even eager, to die in the place of another exist.

What's your point? You responded to a claim that "we can never have the elimination of all doubt" with a situation of "but what if we had a situation of no doubt, plus a confession?" It's kind of a strawman, but we'll go with it. Yes, in such a situation, the death penalty could be justly administered. But such a situation, by definition, will never be present, so you've come over to my side - a practical ban on the administration of the death penalty.

People stopped arguing with you because you, obliquely, came over to their side.

We can set a boundary on implausibility of explanation such that it is only possible in an absurdly theoretical world that a person is innocent.

How do we test our boundary? How do we know that the universe we live in doesn't occasionally allow for things to occur that we consider "absurd"? The boundary is arbitrary, of course; thus, absolute certainty of any kind cannot be achieved.

If the evidentiary rules exclude mere circumstantial evidence, you cannot simply have an unlucky person who happens to be suicidal falling into a guilty verdict. It would require a suicidal person actually setting themselves up to be killed by the system.

This is only true if you define "circumstantial" as "forgable", in which case it's circularly true. What makes you think a ban on circumstantial evidence is going to prevent forged or tampered evidence?

You did not show evidence of absence.

The evidence is a tradition of scientific philosophy that directly asserts that no technique of empiricism can eliminate the doubt you hope to eliminate. As a self-avowed philosopher, you should be aware of this evidence already.

Honestly, as a prosecutor in post war germany you'd tell hundreds of survivors of a concentration camp, that they might possibly be wrong about whether the guard soldiers caught at the camp and on records as being a guard at the camp, killed or was responsible for killings at the camp, evidenced by bodies found at that camp?

Yeah, they might possibly be wrong. Why would I have a problem telling someone that? The likelyhood is, of course, that they're not wrong about significant details of the Holocaust, but I can absolutely guarantee you that any single survivor or account is going to be in error about some aspect.

I mean, we could all be brains in jars, with false memories, in which case everybody is wrong about the Holocaust. Solipcism itself provides a level of doubt that you cannot eliminate.

Are serial killers that much different than a rabid animal, such that they should not be treated in the same way?

I don't know. It depends on what you consider a "serial killler." Consistent M.O.? If a cop shoots a perp in a convinience store holdup one year, and then, ten years later, shoots another perp in the same situation, did he just become a serial killer? Sure, serial killers deserve execution. Murderous psychopaths deserve execution. How do we tell, beyond doubt, who those people are? One psychologist proposes that one in six people are psychopaths, they just haven't killed anyone.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 20 by Silent H, posted 12-13-2005 3:02 PM Silent H has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 28 by macaroniandcheese, posted 12-13-2005 4:41 PM crashfrog has not yet responded
 Message 59 by Silent H, posted 12-14-2005 10:08 AM crashfrog has responded

Inactive Member

Message 27 of 166 (268886)
12-13-2005 4:29 PM
Reply to: Message 26 by wiseman45
12-13-2005 4:22 PM

Re: Death Penalty
Is there room for redemption in your model? That is, does someone who has committed one of these horrible crimes and, since, devoted his life to doing good things still deserve to die?

Isn't there an argument to be made that this person's new usefulness to society merits a stay of execution?

This message is a reply to:
 Message 26 by wiseman45, posted 12-13-2005 4:22 PM wiseman45 has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 31 by macaroniandcheese, posted 12-13-2005 7:04 PM crashfrog has not yet responded

Inactive Member

Message 42 of 166 (269034)
12-13-2005 10:06 PM
Reply to: Message 39 by berberry
12-13-2005 8:56 PM

Re: Revenge
What's the problem with revenge, exactly? Did you consider the possibility that the reason we all are susceptible to seductive thirsts for vengance is because vengance is a really good way to ensure that everybody treats everybody else the way they want to be treated?

"Do unto others as they did unto you" pretty quickly results in a situation where everybody takes a second thought about trying to screw someone. I don't think it's without reason that, in game theory trials like "the prisoner's dilemma", vengance rapidly emerges as the top strategy for ensuring cooperation from your partner.

"'Vengance is mine' sayth the Lord", and all that. Even Christianity doesn't take a line against vengance; it merely makes an assertion about who has the authority to take your vengance for you.

Justice is revenge, sure. It's a social convention for the orderly retribution of transgressions on the transgressor, one that conviniently sidesteps the degenerate outcome of an escalating cycle of vengance. Does anybody have a problem with that? I sure don't.

This message has been edited by crashfrog, 12-13-2005 10:07 PM

This message is a reply to:
 Message 39 by berberry, posted 12-13-2005 8:56 PM berberry has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 43 by bobbins, posted 12-13-2005 10:26 PM crashfrog has responded
 Message 122 by Nuggin, posted 12-17-2005 12:37 PM crashfrog has not yet responded

Inactive Member

Message 44 of 166 (269039)
12-13-2005 10:29 PM
Reply to: Message 43 by bobbins
12-13-2005 10:26 PM

Re: Revenge
Call it a system of revenge then, not justice.

Maybe my thesis wasn't clear, then. What is justice if not revenge?

We could open a coliseum and make revenge a major entertainment as well as an important salve for the inadequacy of society to progress ?

Why bother, when we have Court TV?

All we are satisfying is our age-old thirst for blood.

I'm not hearing the downside.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 43 by bobbins, posted 12-13-2005 10:26 PM bobbins has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 45 by robinrohan, posted 12-13-2005 10:35 PM crashfrog has not yet responded
 Message 47 by bobbins, posted 12-13-2005 10:41 PM crashfrog has responded
 Message 123 by Nuggin, posted 12-17-2005 12:40 PM crashfrog has not yet responded

Inactive Member

Message 72 of 166 (269242)
12-14-2005 12:55 PM
Reply to: Message 47 by bobbins
12-13-2005 10:41 PM

Re: Revenge
As for justice, well reparation is a good start. In legalese 'Making good'.

What makes you think that government-mandated revenge isn't a form of reparation? And what about crimes that cannot be reparated? Murder, for instance? You might suggest that the victim's family be paid off, but what if the victim has no family? How do you reparate to a dead person?

As I said, we all have a desire for revenge because revenge is an objectively effective means of ensuring ethical behavior among a society.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 47 by bobbins, posted 12-13-2005 10:41 PM bobbins has not yet responded

Inactive Member

Message 73 of 166 (269247)
12-14-2005 1:08 PM
Reply to: Message 59 by Silent H
12-14-2005 10:08 AM

Re: My changed mind
That would make my claim that your position exhibited arbitrary application justified. That inherently removes your claim of prima fascie ridiculousness to at least one of my charges.

What, that I arbitrarily assign values of moral outrage to various moral outrages? Since I've been completely upfront about that being arbitrary, I fail to see how a criticism on that point is something I'm required to respond to. Especially when your entire argument rests on an arbitrary separation between "practical" and "theoretical."

You are arguing against practical certainty by appealing to theoretical certainty.

I'm trying to show you that, if "practical certainty" is less certain than "theoretical certainty", then it cannot be absolute; thus the concept of "absolute practical certainty" is an oxymoron. It's the same kind of nonsense as saying "I'm absolutely almost sure." It's a word game.

Since I can't grant you that "absolute practical certainty" is a meaningful term, I can't accept a model that makes use of it.

What you have just argued is that a person who wants to die might be able to create evidence, or have others create evidence to convict themself (its the plot of the movie ZigZag by the way). As I have already said such a move is itself complicity in a murder, they would be helping the real murderer get away, and so what the hell do I care in a practical sense if they then get nailed for that murder?

Asked and answered. There's no compelling state interest in helping a man commit suicide while at the same time letting a real murderer go free.

If you are trying to suggest that we cannot create rules of evidence, particularly with regard to overlapping nature and discovery, such as to preclude forgery by others to frame someone, then I think you are simply wrong.

Fine. I disagree; I think I'm right. Are you going to offer argumentation for your opinion? My opinion seems perfectly self-evident.

How on earth could that practically be considered a case where evidence could have been forged against that man?

Why couldn't it? Show me that this situation falls outside of your arbitrary boundary for "practical", and that your arbitrary boundary doesn't a priori reject any outcomes that have actually occured.

You will please show me what body of philosophers directly assert that no technique of empiricism can eliminate practical doubt. The best you will find is an assertion of no elimination of theoretical doubt.

Circular reasoning: any doubt you can't eliminate is conviniently dismissed as "theoretical."

Are you seriously going to suggest that there is some plausible practical doubt about what went on here?

Did I claim "plausible practical doubt"? Try not to put words in my mouth, please. I would draw the tentative conclusion that that what you say occured actually did so.

Where's the problem there?

This message is a reply to:
 Message 59 by Silent H, posted 12-14-2005 10:08 AM Silent H has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 78 by Silent H, posted 12-14-2005 2:16 PM crashfrog has responded

Inactive Member

Message 131 of 166 (270979)
12-20-2005 12:42 AM
Reply to: Message 78 by Silent H
12-14-2005 2:16 PM

Re: My changed mind
Wrong. The criticism is that you arbitrarily apply moral rules not values.

Semantics at best; nonsense at worst. Try a legitimate criticism next time, not this nonsensical sophistry.

When you invoke a rule in one instance and then refuse to use it in a similar instance, that is being arbitrary.

But I've already proven that the instances are dissimilar, so again, that's not a criticism I'm required to respond to.

You can have absolute practical certainty, and not absolute theoretical certainty.

Then, by definition, it's not absolute. If it's less than it could possibly be, then it doesn't matter that you've qualified it with "practical" (another arbitrary term) then it's still not absolute. Again, this is meaningless. Nonsense.

Complicity to murder makes one culpable of murder which makes one a murderer.

Complicity requires conspiracy, which requires communication. Without evidence that the suicide conspired with the murderer, there's no way to consider him culpable.

Moreover, even if his culpability could be established, why does that mean he deserves the death penalty? We don't even execute all murderers, after all. Only the really bad ones. Manslaughter by association after the fact is such a tenuous connection that there's no legitimacy to bringing the death penalty to the table. It's cruel and unusual.

Uh... I asked you a question. You can't dodge it by simply saying why couldn't it?

Asked and answered. Ok, we'll try it again:

How on earth could that practically be considered a case where evidence could have been forged against that man?

Why couldn't it? In other words, what's your definition of "practical" that sets this situation beyond the cut-off?

As for your second sentence I didn't understand what you meant.

I would have thought it would be obvious. I'm asking for both your arbitrary definition of "practical", and some indication that you've tested your definition against the real world. If your definition of "practical", for instance, results in the conclusion that an event that actually occured is only "theoretical" according to your model, then your model is wrong. (Obviously.)

I'm asking you for some indication that your model survives a fairly obvious test. If you don't understand the concept of testing a model against observation...

I guess I don't really know you but I believe you are BSing me. If you actually held true to that form of tentativity there would be no reason to indict anyone for anything.

Why? What makes you think that I wouldn't indict someone, for a crime punishable by life imprisonment, on the tentative conclusion that they committed the crime?

You don't seem to understand that, as the severity/irreversability of the punishment scales up, my required burden of confidence scales as well. For imprisonment I insist on science-like tenative certainty, aka "lack of reasonable doubt." For fines/punitive damages, I might only insist, as certain courts do, on "the preponderance of evidence." Perhaps for even lesser punishments, like being grounded by your parents, I might insist only on a reasonable indication that you committed the infraction. For less than that (not being able to use the car that night), I might even only require the allegation of impropriety.

For the death penalty, though, I require the elimination of all doubt, reasonable, practical, theoretical, and otherwise. It's fine that you don't. Our legal system doesn't. But I do.

Let me ask you, if "appeared" to come up to you and stab you, would you honestly draw a "tentative" but not "practically certain" conclusion that someone actually stabbed you... and so not call the paramedics or police

Why wouldn't I call emergency services while I was tentatively certain? You seem to conflate "tentative" with "has no idea either way."

Its easy to play the game of claiming epistemological nihilism, but I really don't believe you live that way at all.

I certainly don't live the way you're describing. The reason you're under that misapprehension is that you don't seem to be capable of doing anything but conflating "tenativity" with "uncertainty." For instance:

Yeah, actually I'd like you to explain how you can create a scale of outrage or even appropriate punishment, if all is up in the air as you claim?

Where did I say that "tenativity" was the same as "all up in the air?" I would, for the hundredth time, advise you to attempt to refute my actual arguments, not the strawmen that you create.

I won't be able to respond for a few days. Fair warning. It's travel season.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 78 by Silent H, posted 12-14-2005 2:16 PM Silent H has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 132 by Silent H, posted 12-20-2005 5:48 AM crashfrog has responded

Inactive Member

Message 133 of 166 (271085)
12-20-2005 11:09 AM
Reply to: Message 132 by Silent H
12-20-2005 5:48 AM

Re: My changed mind
Why is it semantics or nonsense to criticize a person for arbitrary application of a moral rule? Do you not understand the difference between a rule and a value?

If you believe that my rules are arbitrary, instead of my values, then that's a statement you need to support. The rule is the same: "comparison." The values are arbitrary, which you apparently accept.

If you have all X, then you can say absolute X. It does not matter that there is something else greater than X.

Yes, it does matter. If there is greater X than the X you have, then you do not have all X, and thus cannot say absolute. In your case, there is greater certainty than practical certainty, and thus even having the maximum practical certainty, you cannot say that your certainty is absolute. There's more certainty to have, and you don't have it. It's as oxymoronic as "I'm absolutely pretty much sure."

As long as you knowingly assist a crime you are culpable in it, whether the other criminal is aware of your assistance or not.

Uh-huh. So, the cashier who hands over the till and dumps it into the robber's bag at gunpoint, therefore assisting the crime, is guilty of robbery as well? Certainly the gunman did not consider him an accomplice, but apparently you would.

Your scenario is that under my rule system a person frames himself for the type of murder which WOULD result in a death penalty. That means the perp is complicit in the worst kind of murders, and assisting that murderer to kill more.

But assisting a murder is not the same as committing one. Knowingly providing the murder weapon, for instance, is only manslaughter, not murder. Again, execution is still not an appropriate punishment for this man, and the state must discern the truth to avoid a miscarriage of justice.

Moreover, it doesn't sit well with me, and it shouldn't with you, for the state to execute a man on the basis of an erroneous model of the crime in question. But, hey, you pays your taxes and you gets your vote.

You know I have given you suggested practical guidelines for evidence TWICE now.

You haven't in any message to me; at least, not any guidelines that I recognized as such. As far as I'm aware you've given nothing but circular definitions and reasoning, and none of that is helpful. If you've posted your definition of "practical" in any other post, I haven't seen it, and I'd appreciate it if you'd point it out.

Otherwise, the point stands. I can hardly accept your model of "practical certainty" when you can't even explain what it is, or give any indication of basic robustness.

The difference between practical issues and theoretical ones have already been made.

I'm sorry, but that statement appears to be an outright lie. You certainly haven't made this case in any post to me, and I'm not following any of the other posts in this thread; too little time, and it got too far ahead while I was gone. If you'd care to point out where you think you've done this I'd appreciate it. Or, I guess you can refuse, and we'll just go on thinking the other person is an ass.

As I said, I don't know if you are BSing me or what. The above condition is impossible to be met.

Hey, he's catching on, finally!

If death is the condition which makes theoretical issues plausible for discussion, we must then look at the theoretical deaths within all other cases.

Why? I don't see that to be the case at all. We regularly take chances based on reduced, or even nonexistent, certainty, because the consequences won't be as bad if we're wrong. For instance I might bet a dollar on the outcome of a coin toss, with only half certainty that I'll win; I certainly wouldn't bet my car on that, or my life.

The requirement of certainty scales with severity. Your idea that we have to apply the same standards of confidence to literally any outcome is nonsense. I think you're BS'ing me; there's no way that you actually live like that.

You admit that despite your holding any conclusion tentatively, some conclusions demand a practical response.

Admit it? What, exactly, gave you the idea that I would hold any other view? What is it about "tentativity" that you believe can't justify practical actions?

Are you still conflating "tentativity" with "complete uncertainty"? You didn't answer the question.

Tentativity becomes "all up in the air" when one includes ALL THEORETICAL POSSIBILITIES.

Why? That's just absolute nonsense, Holmes. If tentativity meant "up in the air", there's no way you'd get in a car or ride in an airplane - after all, whether or not they'll get you there safely is apparently "up in the air" (no pun intended.)

There's no way that you live like that, and it should be obvious that I don't, either. So I'm simply dismissing your statements here as nonsense. You can't possibly be serious with this stuff.

This message has been edited by crashfrog, 12-20-2005 11:09 AM

This message is a reply to:
 Message 132 by Silent H, posted 12-20-2005 5:48 AM Silent H has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 134 by Silent H, posted 12-20-2005 3:54 PM crashfrog has responded

Inactive Member

Message 135 of 166 (274222)
12-30-2005 2:24 PM
Reply to: Message 134 by Silent H
12-20-2005 3:54 PM

Re: My changed mind
Don't you remember? Earlier in this thread YOU stated you HAD seen it in the other thread, and that it involved such restrictions all executions would be impossible? That I had come over to your side?

What I remember is my reaction to your standards; that you had set up a system so restrictive that the death penalty could not ever be practically applied. What I don't remember is the stardard itself. Though it may very well shock you to read it, I don't commit every single discussion with you to memory. I'm sorry, I guess, that most of your posts - pretty much all of them, I guess - don't merit rote memorization.


Your proof fails by inspection of the term "absolute." If there's more that you can have, then what you have is not absolute. Subsets aren't relevant; your sets are defined by ordinality and therefore, "absolute" cannot apply to a set where a set of greater ordinality exists. QED.

Practical certainty deals only with possibilities/explanations within the shared experiential world, and within that world, limited to possibilities that are useful for the case under consideration.

So provide to me a test that, given a specific proposition, determines conclusively whether or not it belongs to the shared experimental world.

You should know as well as I that such a test is impossible; so once again you've failed to provide any usable schema for distingushing the practical possibilities from the theoretical ones. You have absolutely no way to distinguish between the possibilities that have occured in the "shared experimental world" and the ones that simply haven't occured yet.

Live witnesses (more than 2 wholly unrelated and not connected in any social sense), Photographic evidence (uncontested nontampering), physical evidence corroborating connection of suspect to victim as well as weapon used and witnesses to the crime scene (again uncontested nontampering).

Well, great. Once again you talk the talk but, when it comes right down to it, you don't provide any kind of method for actually determining that we even have more than 2 impartial eyewitnesses, untampered photographic evidence, legitimate physical evidence, and all the rest. Your implication seems to be that having the appearance of all of those things makes it impossible for any one of those things to be false, but I'm not familiar with any kind of logical framework that would ensure that to be the case.

You're asking me to believe that the convergence of multiple potential lies verifies each and every one of them. I don't. In such a situation there are many practical actions I'd be willing to take based on the tentative conclusion that I wasn't being lied to, but executing a person is not one of them.

The only plausible scenario, especially under the strictest standard would be a suicide who aids a real killer.

Nonsense. Another plausible scenario would be fake witnesses with undetected connections to the patsy, undetected photographic forgeries, undetected planting of physical evidence, and a confession extracted by undetected coercion. Your scheme provides absolutely no method of value for detecting any of these outrages of justice, and so plausibly puts a completely innocent man to death while letting a killer go free.

Let me just point out, finally, how disappointed I am to return after my long absence and find that this is the best you could do while I was gone.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 134 by Silent H, posted 12-20-2005 3:54 PM Silent H has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 136 by SuperNintendo Chalmers, posted 12-30-2005 7:37 PM crashfrog has responded
 Message 139 by Silent H, posted 12-31-2005 5:25 AM crashfrog has responded

Inactive Member

Message 137 of 166 (274284)
12-30-2005 8:49 PM
Reply to: Message 136 by SuperNintendo Chalmers
12-30-2005 7:37 PM

Re: My changed mind
However, that doesn't mean that tookie williams deserved any special clemency because he wrote children's books.

Well, how about all the lives he saved by counseling teens to avoid the gang life?

I appreciate that a few token gestures won't, in your mind, offset the killing of several people in cold blood. But what gestures would? What more did he have to do than he did to merit a stay of execution and a life of imprisonment?

What he did was bad. I don't think anybody disputes that. And according to the people of California, specifically 12 of them, what he did and who he was merited, at that time, the death penalty. And I can understand the views of those who believe that no deeds hence can bring those four people back to life, nor undo the tide of gang violence that has risen in his wake.

But to those people, who supported his death, what could he have done? What actions hence would have been enough to commute his sentence to life imprisonment? None of the mob who called for his head ever seemed to be able to answer that question, but if we're going to empower governors with the ability to commute sentences, it's an issue that we need to have guidelines for. Why not have them, exactly?

This message is a reply to:
 Message 136 by SuperNintendo Chalmers, posted 12-30-2005 7:37 PM SuperNintendo Chalmers has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 138 by SuperNintendo Chalmers, posted 12-30-2005 9:59 PM crashfrog has not yet responded

Inactive Member

Message 141 of 166 (274384)
12-31-2005 11:36 AM
Reply to: Message 139 by Silent H
12-31-2005 5:25 AM

Re: changing minds... ad hoc edition
You shifted to a position accusing me of asserting that I had, but I never really did.

You never have, in this thread, as far as I can tell. You appeared to be referring to this thread, originally; and if you look back you'll see that that's the context of my remarks.

I've never disputed that you laid out standards in that other thread, but that was many months ago, and again, I don't commit your posts to memory. Nor do you seem to do the same for mine, judging from your responses as of late.

So one cannot say I have ownership over absolutely all black pens in my apartment, because there may be nonblack pens in my apt as well as black pens outside of my house?

Sure, but what you're trying to say is more akin to "I have ownership over absolutely most of the black pens in my house." Which is a nonsense statement, like saying "I'm absolutely mostly sure." People say that as a joke. Just as your position is kind of a joke.

If you and I both experience something, then it is by definition part of our shared experiential world.

Yes, of course, but our shared experimental world also must include experiences that neither one of us have had yet, and you don't provide a reliable test - any kind of test, actually - for discerning between possibilities that you'll never experience and those you simply haven't experienced yet.

Until you do that, you don't have a reliable scheme for discerning between practical and theoretical possibilities, and therefore that construction is not rigorous enough, in my mind, for the application of the death penalty. You're free to disagree, once again, on the basis that we assign our own arbitrary requirement of rigour to the death penalty; but there's simply no disputing the fact that your construction of "practical vs. theoretical" is not rigorous, but simply a subjective label you yourself apply to experiences that you estimate, at best, you'll never have.

Practical vs Theoretical its really quite easy.

Sure it is. You just guess which experiences you're likely to have, and which you're not.

But how do you know you guessed right?

I said unrelated and unconnected in any social sense. Now how would I figure out whether two people were unrelated or unconnected in a social sense to each other?

Yeah. How could you do it if they were determined to conceal their connectedness to each other, or to the victim or to the patsy?

I suggest that in fact, it is a mindbender to you, because throughout the thread you've failed to explain how to do it, though I've been asking for nothing else.

Secondly I did not just say untampered. I said UNCONTESTED. That means all a defendent has to do is raise a reasonable argument that the evidence could have been tampered with.

So, that's your solution? It's up to the defendant, now, to prove he's innocent against the assumption of guilt? "Innocent until proven guilty" demands that all evidence be considered suspect until verified, so the onus is actually on your prosecution to defend the legitimacy of their evidence, not the other way around. And who decides what is reasonable, and by what means do they do so?

I mean what the heck, I had confession of the defendant, certified by an independent psychologist, and backed again before execution. How is that possibly going to be a potential lie?

You don't believe that it's possible to lie to a psychologist? Tell me, Holmes, what powers of infallible lie detection do you believe that psychologists possess?

Public setting, confirmed by psychologist and family/friends, as well as reconfirmed by the defendent before the execution? What possible coercion could there be?

The coercion that these people cannot detect. How do you propose to eliminate that possibility?

Or do you just assume that possibility doesn't exist? And on what grounds do you do so?

This message is a reply to:
 Message 139 by Silent H, posted 12-31-2005 5:25 AM Silent H has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 142 by Silent H, posted 12-31-2005 2:27 PM crashfrog has responded

Inactive Member

Message 144 of 166 (274989)
01-02-2006 11:08 AM
Reply to: Message 142 by Silent H
12-31-2005 2:27 PM

Re: changing minds... ad hoc edition
That's not what I am trying to say.

Then you're equivocating between a situation of subsets defined by location and a situation of subsets defined by ordinality, and then trying to apply a descriptor that means "maximum ordinality" to a set for whom exists a set with larger ordinality.

The pen analogy, as I have corrected it, is the proper analogy for this situation. And it handily demonstrates that your construct is simply nonsense.

This makes no sense as far as general epistemology goes, much less the specific context we are discussing (court cases). The shared experiential world would be what is capable of being experienced, even if one has not yet had such an experience. That you have not experienced a shoe in a store down the street, does not make that shoe something outside the shared experiential world.

I never said it did, Holmes. Try to read closer. If you do you'll see that what I've been continually asking you to do is provide a reliable test between the experiences that have yet to be had in the experimental world simply because they haven't happened yet, and the experiences that have yet to be had in the experimental world because they're impossible to have.

You don't appear to be able to. Moreover, as a philosopher, you should recognize that you won't be able to. Since you can't, what has or has not happened in the experimental world can't be taken as a guide to what is possible and what is not.

I'll start by disputing that this is even an argument.

Which I take to mean you have no idea how to respond. Fair enough, but you should have just said so.

Are you suggesting you do not know what forms of experience you share with others in this world?

I know what experiences I have shared; but since no one can see the future, how can I know which experiences I will share and which I won't ever?

Do you see how this is crucial to your position? You assert offhandedly that there are experiences in our shared experimental world and experiences that are not, but you have absolutely no idea how to tell the difference. You can't even tell me. According to the state of modern philosophy it's impossible to know.

And now, knowing something that it's impossible to know is supposed to be your airtight standard for the death penalty? As I said, you're either putting us on, or you're trying very hard to erect a standard for the death penalty that has the deceptive appearance of practicality but is applicable in no practical situation, and thus won't ever be used.

Which puts you over on my side, ultimately - no death penalty.

You don't know what uncontested means? It does not mean shifting the burden of proof to the accused. It actually eases the defense by not needing evidence to prove tampering.

Well, wait now. Last post you said they needed a "reasonable argument" that tampering had occured. Now you say they simply need to assert tampering?

I do know what "uncontested" means, Holmes. Your posts, and your constant equivocation on terms, pretty much proves to me that you do not. So clarify your standard for me. Do they need a reasonable argument to contest, by which "reasonable" most people would take to mean "has some evidence"; or do they simply need to assert tampering to avoid the death penalty?

The explanation of HOW, would always be case specific. That makes trying to explain a general rule pointless, and a complete explanation exhaustive.

Absolutely a non-answer to my question.

All evidence is not considered suspect, evidence is considered neutral.

No, it's considered suspect unless there's a trail of verification from the evidence to the scene, audit procedures for evidence, etc. Evidence is not assumed to be valid; the state has to follow strict proceedures to ensure the validity of evidence. Which is why you can't simply drop new evidence into a court proceeding that the other side hasn't had a chance to see, except in some very limited (and arguably unconstitutional) circumstances.

Surely you're not ignorant of how police handle evidence, are you? Surely you didn't assume that they just drop it in a ziplock and leave it sitting out in the patrolman's breakroom until they need it for trial, right? What do you think evidence lockers and sign-in sheets are for? They ensure the validity of evidence when the state presents it. Evidence whose validity cannot be ensured, because of a violation of those proceedures, cannot even be admitted to the courtroom.

That a person is coerced into being executed against their will by an invisible force which prevents them from saying "I was coerced", even at the moment of execution?

So, there's nothing you're willing to give your life for? If that's the case, can you understand perhaps how a different person might disagree?

It appears to me that you don't like the death penalty and in order to make your desire sound reasonable, you have chosen a criteria which is impossible to meet. A criteria you would not accept in any other part of your life.

Absolutely. No other part of my life involves the state executing other human beings who may or may not deserve it, so I believe that a unique standard of proof for that unique situation is justified.

Indeed, my standard is impossible to meet, which is why I oppose the death penalty, even though I believe that its possible to commit a crime that deserves to be punished by death.

It's like you're catching on, finally. Took you long enough, though.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 142 by Silent H, posted 12-31-2005 2:27 PM Silent H has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 150 by Silent H, posted 01-02-2006 6:05 PM crashfrog has responded

Inactive Member

Message 147 of 166 (275019)
01-02-2006 2:40 PM
Reply to: Message 146 by nwr
01-02-2006 2:20 PM

Re: sorry it's long.
And evolution works, and is so creative, because biological systems are not the mechanistic systems that you take them to be.

What makes you say that? I would, in fact, say the opposite - evolution works and is creative because biological systems are essentially mechanistic, not in spite of that fact.

Dawkins is correct that, ultimately, all of our actions stem from (possibly undescribable) mechanistic consequences of natural law. But, uniquely, humans want to believe in their own consciousness. We want to believe that we're individuals. And if we reduce all "bad" actions to mechanical flaws, we're forced to reduce everything we don't like about other people to the same reasoning.

My wife doesn't like football? Must be something loose in her head. My parents believe in a different religion than I do? I'll just reach in and fix that. But what about the ways in which I disappoint people? Or the ways in which Dawkins does?

Ultimately, people have the right to choose to commit crimes. They have the right to choose to be criminals. They have the right to betray their friends and loved ones, because, individually, we demand the right to make choices that disappoint others.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 146 by nwr, posted 01-02-2006 2:20 PM nwr has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 148 by nwr, posted 01-02-2006 3:14 PM crashfrog has not yet responded

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