Thursday, September 02, 2004

test your consistency

http://www.philosophers.co.uk/games/check.htm

This tests the consitency of your beliefs. I had a tension quotient of only 7%; apparently most people have a quotient of around 29%.

The area where I run into some tension is detailed below. I answer the tension by suggesting that my job totally requires me to use a car as we have to lug a drum kit around. Whilst one could theoretically do this by train, it would be pretty fucking hard, and on balance it seems that
using an efficient small car is the least wasteful method of transport for a band.

"But you might want to argue that much of your use of cars or aeroplanes is necessary, not for survival, but for a certain quality of life."

It has been scientifically proven that Gravenhurst is the only thing I can do without becoming chronically depressed.

"The difficulty is that the consequence of this response is that it then becomes hard to be critical of others, for it seems that 'necessary' simply means what one judges to be important for oneself."

It's not like I drive to the chip shop round the corner like some people do. In fact, I don't drive anywhere, because I can't drive. Practically the only time I get in a car is when we take our equipment to shows. Chip shop round the corner, fat kids driven to school and back one mile away: manifestly uneccesary and wasteful use of resources. Transport of drumkit in car: arguably necessary, and a statement to this effect is at least not prima facie implausible.


++++++++++++++++

Questions 24 and 3: How much must I protect the environment?
23281 of the 44875 people who have completed this activity have this tension in their beliefs.
You agreed that:The environment should not be damaged unnecessarily in the pursuit of human ends
But disagreed that:People should not journey by car if they can walk, cycle or take a train instead
As walking, cycling and taking the train are all less environmentally damaging than driving a car for the same journey, if you choose to drive when you could have used another mode of transport, you are guilty of unnecessarily damaging the environment.
The problem here is the word 'unnecessary'. Very few things are necessary, if by necessary it is meant essential to survival. But you might want to argue that much of your use of cars or aeroplanes is necessary, not for survival, but for a certain quality of life. The difficulty is that the consequence of this response is that it then becomes hard to be critical of others, for it seems that 'necessary' simply means what one judges to be important for oneself. A single plane journey may add more pollutants to the atmosphere than a year's use of a high-emission vehicle. Who is guilty of causing unnecessary environmental harm here?


7 comments:

Adrian said...

Got 13%.

Questions I was picked up on are below. I realised that I'd been trapped by the 'holocaust is a historical reality' question, having already said that there are no objective truths. The truth will always be dependent on other factors, but I'm not going to deny that the holocaust happened just because some people don't think it did.

And there should be no financial consideration as far as saving lives goes, but that doesn't mean an individual government raising tax is the right way to go about saving 'developing world' (they're using a contentious term there, btw).



Questions 5 and 29: Can you put a price on a human life?
11084 of the 45204 people who have completed this activity have this tension in their beliefs.

You agreed that:
The right to life is so fundamental that financial considerations are irrelevant in any effort to save lives
But disagreed that:
Governments should be allowed to increase taxes sharply to save lives in the developing world

If the right to life is so fundamental that financial considerations are irrelevant when it comes to making decisions about saving human lives, then that must mean that we should always spend as much money as possible to save lives. If it costs £4 million to save a cancer patient's life, that money should be spent, period. But if this is true, then surely the West should spend as much money as possible saving lives in the developing world. You may already give $100 dollars a month to save lives in the developing world. But if financial considerations are irrelevant when it comes to saving lives, why not $200, or $1000, or just as much as you can afford? If you do not do so, you are implicitly endorsing the principle that individuals and governments are not obliged to save lives at all financial cost - that one can spend 'enough' on saving lives even though spending more, which one could afford to do, would save more lives. This suggests that financial considerations are relevant when it comes to making decisions about saving lives - there is a limit to how much one should spend to save a life.

--------------------------------------------------------
Questions 17-28: Are there any absolute truths?
15729 of the 45204 people who have completed this activity have this tension in their beliefs.

You agreed that:
There are no objective truths about matters of fact; 'truth' is always relative to particular cultures and individuals
And also that:
The holocaust is an historical reality, taking place more or less as the history books report

If truth is relative then nothing is straightforwardly 'true' or 'factual'. Everything is 'true for someone' or 'a fact for them'. What then, of the holocaust? Is it true that millions of Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals and other 'enemies' of the Third Reich were systematically executed by the Nazis? If you believe that there are no objective truths, you have to say that there is no straight answer to this question. For some people, the holocaust is a fact, for others, it is not. So what can you say to those who deny it is a fact? Are they not as entitled to their view as you are to yours? How can one both assert the reality of the holocaust and deny that there is a single truth about it? Resolving this intellectual tension is a real challenge.

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