What Is Too Close, Too Far

By:  Enoch  •  2 weeks ago  •  32 comments

What Is Too Close, Too Far

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Chaplain's Corner

At the November 16, 2019 Romanell Workshop on Medical Bioethics, Shane Hemmer (University of Buffalo Romanell Center - Veterans Administration), delivered an insightful and well-presented lecture on “Moral Diversity and Conscientious Objection.”

During the Q. and A. session I asked Shane the following question. An analogy is not an equivalent. What is the line of demarcation between two analogues being close enough to fall under the same laws, rules, protocols, or treatments? When are they dissimilar enough to be treated as separate and distinct?

A method often employed with treatment of analogues is as follows:

P                             P1

___      is to           ___

S                             X1

Problem P is treated by solution S. In the case of military conscientious objection it is approached with a series of options to be exercised. Mr. Hemmer did a masterful job in the case of reviewing, comparing and contrasting what should be the way to handle medical conscientious objection in the same, or at least similar enough ways. The focus is to successfully and consistently address the moral concerns for all relevant parties. In this format we see how a problem is handled in one way.

To get at the question of when to use analogous solutions to problems said to be close enough for this to work another approach is recommended.

Let’s look to Pragmatism in Epistemology for a model.

Suppose there are two distinct positions on how we know what we know.

Let’s posit that in each case there is agreement on an account that satisfies both parties in the following four matters.

Consistency. In each approach there are no inconsistencies identified.

Coherence. Each model seems equally well put together so that there are no loose or sloppy ends.

Clarity. Each methodology is on a par for being accessible. Using technically defined terms, people using either are employing the same terms in the same ways. There is no saying the same thing with sufficiently different meanings to cloud or prevent communication.

Correspondence. Both ways of doing this conform to facts on the ground. Either path is harmonious with what the field accepts to be the case.

What is our epistemological tie breaker?

Pragmatism would promote whichever theory yields the greater insight into what is not known or agreed upon should be employed as a working hypothesis.

When a better one emerges put that to work. This will provide superior insight into the unknown or not agreed upon.

Let’s think through how to apply this to Dr. Hemmer’s analogue of military and medical conscientious objection.

Rather than trying to use the P over S for an approach to P1 over X1 to see if it works well enough for the analogue to hold, let’s try a more situational rather than deontological approach. Separately try to find a P over S for each format of conscientious objection. When done independently, compare and contrast the P over S for each.

Ask the following questions;

Does each approach yield an account for successfully approaching the problem in a way which deals with Consistency, Coherence, Clarity and Correspondence equally?

If so, which of the two yields more insight into what is not agreed upon and/or known?

Finally, and most important for us to address the matter of how close is close enough, and how far too far for the analogy to hold. Can we identify the border where the analogy is close enough to be helpful? In the alternative, are we able to quantify when the analogues are sufficiently distinct that we need to apply entirely separate methods in order to achieve the best moral outcome in either case?

This pathway can help us not only in medical bio ethics.

It can be useful in any area of moral philosophical, theosophical or theological ethical inquiry.

Good old American Pragmatism.       

Kindly observe site CoC, TOS; and the Four B’s.

Be Respectful.

Be On-Point.

Be Positive.

Or Be Gone!

Please feel free to contribute your thoughts on this matter.

It is heady stuff.

You can do it.

We want to hear your insights.

Peace and Abundant Blessings Always.



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2  author  Enoch    2 weeks ago

This is a difficult topic.

Let's all contribute our varied education, knowledge, perspectives, wisdom and experiences.

Together we can work together successfully to address it.

Please follow the site CoC, TOS; and the Four B's.

Be Respectful.

Be On-Point.

Be Positive.

Or Be Gone!

We look forward to your sagacity in ascertaining the truth.

Peace and Abundant Blessings On This, As On All Other Days.


3  TᵢG    2 weeks ago

In essence the approach grades the correctness of a position based on consistency, coherence, clarity and correspondence and the degree to which the position explains facts (observations) commonly held to be true.

This seems to be a method for gauging the relative correctness of religions.   Equally well it could be used to gauge ideologies.   The result would be an ordering which shows the most likely correct to least likely correct system (religion, ideology, etc.) for explaining observations.

Consistency seems to be something that can indeed by quantified.    One could formalize the method into axioms, rules, etc. and analyze for contradictions.   

Coherence is a bit more difficult, but depending upon the observations we are testing against, we could rank based on whether or not the method addresses each observation (and even the degree to which observation is addressed).   Thus quantification seems possible here too.

Clarity, as described, could indeed be computed based on the use of homonyms and the percentage of undefined terms and terms based on undefined terms.

Correspondence is where we have semantics.   This seems to be a judgment call.   Reason being is that two people (each using a different method) could both see their method giving the best conformance to agreed upon facts.   

For example, most will agree that our universe came into existence.   That is, the universe is not eternal.   The Young Earth Creationist position holds that God created the universe (and, in particular, Earth) exactly as stated in the Bible and that each day is a 24 hour period.   The Old Earth Creationist position holds that God created the universe (and Earth) exactly as modern science would suggest which means the universe evolved for billions of years and then, later on, our solar system was created.   Technically this means the universe was around without our solar system for about 9.2 billion years evolving in stages to produce fundamental forces, particles, H atoms and then later with cooling to form celestial bodies which in turn are the participants in galaxies and solar systems and many more heavier elements such as Carbon and Oxygen.    After 9.2 billion years the Earth formed (along with the rest of our solar system).   The Earth then underwent about 1 billion years of formation and cooling until primordial life emerged.   The life has evolved for about 3.5 billion years to end up with the species we see today.   Now here is where the OECs differ a bit.   Some hold that human beings are also the result of evolution and others claim God created our species directly (no evolution).

I could add in plenty more details but let's just stick with this to establish the nature of the problem.   The problem is that YECs and OECs see the exact same reality (our universe, our planet, life forms, environmental factors, etc.) and come up with profoundly different views.   Both methods correspond to this reality but it is a judgment call as to which corresponds better.

From my perspective, the OEC method corresponds far better than the YEC method.   But I am grading based on conformity with reality as understood through the tools of science.   The typical YEC would find the YEC view to correspond best because it can be tied directly (and literally) to the Bible.   That is, the YEC anchors truth on the Bible whereas I anchor truth (at least our best approximation of what we observe) on science.

This then seems we must now apply the outlined approach to compare the Bible with science.   We would evaluate the Bible on consistency, coherence, clarity and correspondence and then do the same with science.    If the observations (facts) remain to be that which we observe, I see science prevailing hands down.  

So that is what went through my mind as I read your article.    

Great article too Enoch.   We need more articles that encourage people to reason through tough questions.   There is no magical way to find truth (yet) but it certainly is good to explore approach of analysis to achieve a better understanding of a complex problem space.

3.1  author  Enoch  replied to  TᵢG @3    2 weeks ago

Dear Friend TiG: Thanks for taking the time to contribute a well thought out and serious response to a difficult problem. 

We are grateful.

I put this article under the tag line, and in the index under ethics. 

This discussion thread seeks to uncover what approach bests helps us to identify when analogs are close enough so that we can customize what works in one so we can use it to make headway on the other.

In the alternative, when are two analogues far enough apart so that what works in one isn't the best way to approach the other?

In Dr. Hemmer's presentation at the Romanell Center he followed the literature with the example of military versus medical conscientious objection.

Yours is an interesting other issue.

Let me give it a bash.

The Young Earth Creationist position is one with which I am not familiar.

I hope those who know it and subscribe to it can give it a fair hearing in this discussion thread.

It does not exist in my heritage.

Here is why.

The date of about 6,000 years on the Jewish calendar does not denote the actual origin date of the universe.

To the Tanachic (Jewish Hebrew and Aramaic primary Scripture) mind that is not how time was tracked.

In Beresheet (Genesis) one of the two creationist accounts begins as follows.

"Bareysheet barah Eloheem, Veh et ha shamayim veh et ha Aretz".

"In the beginning G-d created the heavens and the earth". 

Rashi, a great Scriptural commentator asks this question.

"Dilmah 'Bah Raysheet' eleh 'Bah Rishon'?

"Why is it written, 'In the beginning' rather than 'at first'?

His answer, which is mainstream in my heritage is that to the Biblical mindset this is not the first creation.

This is to say, history, like computers occasionally need to be rebooted to function well.

Screen freeze, malware, power outages and brown outs can impair a computer from fully functioning.

In human history, certain events also for different reasons merit a re-starting of time measurement.

As such, we do not opine that the history of time and space happened only with the start of humankind, or the Jewish People and heritage.

We have no problem with the universe evolving over time, humanity so doing; and our understanding of it being a process.

We see the linear view of chronology as a dynamic, not a static process. 

We are being who we are and becoming who will can be.

This occurs simultaneously.

We are at once our actuality and potentiality.

Its called process metaphysics.

We see this as an opportunity for improvement.

We also feel it is a reason for hope. 

Things can be more and better than they are with sufficient effort on our part, where we have something to do with the process.

There are things we can never alter.

They are beyond our scope, range and domain to affect.

We elect to focus on what we can.

The creation process is one of order out of caos.

In the first creationist account there is the phrase "Tohu vah Vahu" (darkness and void).

That entails a gradual evolutionary process to get to light and matter.

There is not in our viewpoint a necessity to choose Tanach veh Talmud (Torah U'Mesorah) over science, or the reverse.

They do not deal with the same things.

When they do, not in the same way for for the same purpose(s).

You may wish to see the article in Chaplains Corner Scriptural Orchard.

Only 75% of the time is Tanach meant to be interpreted literally.

It is not a motherboard repair manual.

Those require a more monolithic approach to work. 

It can help shed light on the differences between what science and religions can and do handle.

As well how in comparison and contrast to what my heritage, which is a very different way of doing metaphysics than many other religious, spiritual and humanitarian activities. 

Part but hardly all of the value your contribution here is that more than one viewpoint presented can help us to understand and communicate with each other.

It is important that each approach be fairly and correctly presented.

Good show, dear friend.

I concur that it is important we put our heads, backgrounds, viewpoints and talents together in pursuit of important questions.

Moral approaches to life matter.

Every one whoever they are, where ever they are coming from can all elect to address life most fully, abundantly, humanely and constructively by living the life ethical. 

They help us to discern and collaborate on common ground for the betterment of ourselves, those around us; and the material environment upon which we dwell.

Good things come from that.




3.1.1  TᵢG  replied to  Enoch @3.1    2 weeks ago
The Young Earth Creationist position is one with which I am not familiar. I hope those who know it and subscribe to it can give it a fair hearing in this discussion thread.

Well remember that YEC vs. OEC was simply the example I used while commenting on the approach you outlined.   I was not intending to discuss these in detail.   Briefly, however, the YECs hold to a literal interpretation of the Bible (in English).   So basically they take each word in the King James Bible and interpret it literally.   For example, because the English Bible uses the word 'day' in Genesis (along with evening and morning, etc.) the YECs believe that creation was done in 6 24 hour days.    So imagine reading the King James Bible and taking everything at face value - literally.    The YEC belief system is one that strives to make that sensible and, nowadays, they must twist and/or deny scientific findings to do that.   (They hold, for example, that all forms of scientific dating are flawed and useless.)

If you are ever interested in understanding YECs, the biggest YEC organization is Answers In Genesis ;  its leader is Ken Ham.

In contrast, one of the most intelligent OEC speakers is Dr. Hugh Ross of Reasons to Believe .

And if you are really interested in comparing YEC vs OEC here is a debate between Ken Ham and Dr. Ross .   Both use the Bible and observable reality as their foundations but the resulting interpretations are dramatically different.   This is the Correspondence dimension on which I was opining.

3.1.2  author  Enoch  replied to  TᵢG @3.1.1    2 weeks ago

Dear Friend TiG: I am glad you brought this to the fore.

One measure of the validity or lack thereof for a proposed methodology or system is its applicability in situations for which it was not designed.

What was attempted on my part in the medical bio ethics field was to devise an approach for knowing when an analogue holds, and what to do if it does. As well when to treat things that are distinct differently, as would be appropriate.

In Scriptural Orchard (Pardes Tanacheet) I lay out my case for the problems which ensue when a text not intended to be read literally 100% of the time is so approached.

Moreover, trying to get both denotation and connotation through translation not just from language to language, but worse from language block to language block is bound to be plagued with problems. 

Given my age, health and goals for time remaining I prefer to leave to others matters of doctrine in translations and monolithic interpretations of subtle and complex metaphysical literature.

I prefer in Chaplaincy and the Rabbinate to do all the good I can for all those who will accept it.

My heritage is more about how we live life than it is about the perfection of doctrine.

Doctrine is part of what we do.

It is also the least important part of it.

Our take is that we should live life well in the here and now, where we do have access.

Anything which follows will work itself out when the time is nigh.

A lot of formal theology is a result of cultural diffusion when in minority status. 

Things in human history never take place in a vacuum.

I find no merit or value in either denying science and its reductionist epistemological model for the physical, chemical and biological level of reality.

I also find no merit in trying to force the physical and what works best in it on the metaphysical.

There is no evidence that they are the same.

There is no analogy perceived to be had here.

Not in the immanent or the transcendent realms.

That is my and our take.

We are not alone in this.

You may enjoy reading Alfred North Whitehead's Religion in the Making

His position is that the most interesting thing to observe in any system or methodology of thought are the first principles.

All else flows from them in a well constructed approach.

Nothing can be achieved by assuming them in order to justify them.

That is the circular reasoning problem.

For me, the pragmatic way of using what works best in any specific set of circumstance yields the best result.

See, among other works William James Varieties of Religious Experience.

The approach I presented in this discussion thread is an example of applying that in this one context.

It is good you gave us the chance to see if it has value beyond its narrow scope.  

For those to whom this does no peak to their views and/or needs, fine with me and us.

We are not, and have no interest in committing the sin of evangelism.

See Vayekra (Deuteronomy) all of 13. Key in on 13:5. 

I and we are more concerned in how we can all come together when possible, and do some good on individual and collective activities.

For the sake of our survival as a genus and species, successfully addressing climate change and the human role in affecting it is one good example of important work to be done.

We can't get that accomplished by denying the incontrovertible data since the industrial revolution.

Life will go on, as will the planet if we are not successful in addressing this problem in a timely fashion.

The question is will we be around to see it?

 My view is probably not. 

I do appreciate your thoughtful and well researched contributions here.

They help me and other to understand your position, and some of the alternative approaches.

In moderating original articles I contribute for our community, I take seriously moral responsibility to give all a chance to put forward what matters to them in an atmosphere of respect, positivity, relevance and fairness.

It never is or should be a first person judgement if I am able to do that well enough.

Please keep your valuable contributions coming.

They are most welcomed and appreciated in my discussions here. 


Enoch (Munching Turkey Left Overs Today).  

3.1.3  TᵢG  replied to  Enoch @3.1.2    2 weeks ago
My heritage is more about how we live life than it is about the perfection of doctrine.

I have noticed, and to that I give you well deserved credit.  jrSmiley_79_smiley_image.gif

3.1.4  author  Enoch  replied to  TᵢG @3.1.3    2 weeks ago

Thank you dear friend.

I hope we see the day when you and I can co-author an article here on moral philosophy.

In both of our communities, as in every human group living the life ethical is there for the taking.

One question is how to do this.

I respect your deep and organized thinking ability.

If we do so, no stopping us in what we can do for this community.



4  author  Enoch    2 weeks ago

Corrections to the above post to our good friend TiG .

All that turkey and its tryptophan creating melatonin has made my fingers sleepy today.

Change to "We are who we are and becoming who we can be". 

Change to "Only 25% of the time is Tanach meant to be interpreted literally". 

In that article please see the term Pardes for at least four distinct ways to interpret Tanach and its commentaries, and why.

5  Nerm_L    2 weeks ago

A bushel of apples and a bushel of pears can both be described by the same quantifiable measures.  Apples and pears both grow on trees, ripen at the same time, and are the same size and color when ripe.  They share the same quantifiable measures of mass, volume, moisture content, sugar content, etc.  Apples and pears are analogous but are distinctly different.

To me, the question posed by the article is when does conformity to a quantifiable set of measures overwhelm unique distinctions?  Apples and pears may be analogous by quantifiable measures but are not interchangeable; there are unique differences that may not be quantifiable.  Can a quantifiable analogy achieve sufficient sophistication that allows apples and pears to be interchanged with each other?

How close is close enough?

5.1  Nerm_L  replied to  Nerm_L @5    2 weeks ago

Apples and watermelons can also be described by a common set of quantifiable measures.  However, the differences between the two are so apparent that the distinctions overwhelm the quantifiable similarities.  Apples and watermelons are not analogous.

So, a converse question posed by the article is how apparent must be the distinctions to overwhelm a quantifiable set of measures?

How far apart is too far?

5.1.1  author  Enoch  replied to  Nerm_L @5.1    2 weeks ago

Dear Friend Nerm_L; That is precisely the issue at hand.

How close too close.

How far too far.


What do we do with this information.

Good on you.



5.2  author  Enoch  replied to  Nerm_L @5    2 weeks ago

Dear Friend Nerm_L: Excellent!

You have your thumb directly on the pulse of the issue at hand.

In your probing example I would think the genetic make up of the different fruits, and the context in which an analogy for seeing if a problem could be solved would be a good place to being here.

One such context might be food allergies.

If a person breaks out in hives after eating an apple, say a Grannie Smith will they also become ill if they munch a Bosch pear?

How about within the same fruit?

Would the consumption and thereafter discomfort of eating a Honeycrisp condemn the diner to the same result if chewing on a Jonagold? 


Along the same path, would an Asian Pear produce the same adverse reaction in a person who feels ill following eating an Anjou pear?

Again, why?

To further muddy the waters, what aobut people who eat all four fruits with no adverse effect?


How about those who may need an emergency room following having each and every fruit listed?


Presumably, if we could isolate and identify the agent(s) causing the problem on the individual and perhaps group levels that would be the place to seek an answer.

Well done Nerm_L.      

Please keep your contributions coming.

They, as you are valued here.


Enoch, Nibbling a Fruit Cup and Testing My Blood Glucose.

5.2.1  Nerm_L  replied to  Enoch @5.2    2 weeks ago
You have your thumb directly on the pulse of the issue at hand.

Thanks for the affirmation!  Methinks your article provides fertile ground for growing fruit.  I hope my comments are providing adequate cultivation.

The two questions "how close is close enough?" and "how far apart is too far?" gradually progresses toward a conclusion that developed methodology should (note the should) evaluate and accommodate both similarities and differences.

Similarities describe generalities; differences describe specifics.  Applying generalities can certainly be more efficient; however, differences influence effectiveness of the application.

A fairly common colloquialism is "not seeing the forest for the trees".  But I believe we should also remain aware that when looking at the forest, it is made up of individual trees.   

5.2.2  author  Enoch  replied to  Nerm_L @5.2.1    2 weeks ago

Dear Friend Nerm_L: I like the following points you raised very much.

Similarites are general, differences specific.

We need both, I opine in order to know the answers to the two questions and what to do with those answers.

Regarding specifics, there is a quote from Michaelangelo that I favor.

"Trifles make perfection. Perfection is no trifle".

The more detailed we can be in our analysis and synthesis the better the outcome.

On the forest metaphor, there is a Macro and Micro level to all valid inquires.

Interestingly, they do not always follow the same rules.

Newtonian Physics seems to follow different behaviors (Macro) than Quantum Mechanics (Micro).

As ever, I am a pragmatist.

Use the macro for big, the micro for small.

Whatever works best rules for me.

Nerm_L, you and our good friend TiG really making my holiday weekend here.

Many thanks.



5.2.3  Nerm_L  replied to  Enoch @5.2.2    2 weeks ago
Regarding specifics, there is a quote from Michaelangelo that I favor. "Trifles make perfection. Perfection is no trifle".

My interpretation of Michaelangelo's quote is that differences result in perfection.  That seems to suggest the impossibility of a perfect analogy unless I am misunderstanding Michaelangelo's meaning.  Playing the role of contrarian, let me ask a head scratcher:

How can diversity as a quantitative general measure of a population accommodate differences within that population?

5.2.4  author  Enoch  replied to  Nerm_L @5.2.3    2 weeks ago

Dear Friend Nerm_L: Good question.

Perhaps accepting that there will be differences.

Accept them.

Seek out common ground.

Build coalitions on that.

That is my take.

Interested in reading yours.



5.2.5  Nerm_L  replied to  Enoch @5.2.4    2 weeks ago
Perhaps accepting that there will be differences. Accept them.

Yes, that would be a pragmatic approach.  But how can a principle to accommodate diversity be generally applied?

While quantifying similarities does provide an efficient way of finding common ground, ignoring differences can result in conflict.  

Another general principle is that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.  But is it acceptable to disregard the few for the greater good?  How many is too few?

That returns to the questions "how close is close enough?" and "how far apart is too far?".  To me it seems that applying a general principle depends upon quantifying similarities rather than differences.  However, as you pointed out with Michaelangelo's quote, general principles cannot be perfect.

So, it seems to me the ultimate question is "how perfect is perfect enough?"  If we are willing to accept imperfection in our general principles, shouldn't we be willing to accept imperfection in each other?  Perhaps our imperfections are our common ground.

5.2.6  author  Enoch  replied to  Nerm_L @5.2.5    2 weeks ago

Dear Friend Nerm_L: Good and important points all.

Imperfections are indeed a common ground.

Strong evidence suggests that we are not a perfect species.

Imperfect, yet perfectible.

We can always improve on who and what we are.

Individually and collectively.

Ignoring differences and similarities, as recognizing either or both can lead to conflict.

Perhaps the root cause(s) of conflict are not the same as ways to prevent and/or resolve them.

Excellent work Nerm.

You are a deep thinker.

We are as impressed as we are grateful for your contributions here.



5.2.7  Nerm_L  replied to  Enoch @5.2.6    2 weeks ago
Ignoring differences and similarities, as recognizing either or both can lead to conflict. Perhaps the root cause(s) of conflict are not the same as ways to prevent and/or resolve them.

Well, I believe the ground has been sufficiently cultivated to see if Dr. Shane Hemmer's fruit will grow.  I have not attempted to research Dr. Hemmer's lecture  on “Moral Diversity and Conscientious Objection” so will only be commenting on material provided in the original article.

As I understand it, Dr. Hemmer is asking if military conscientious objection is an adequate analogue that allows applying the same methodology for medical conscientious objection.  But that seems to accept the validity of conforming to general principles as the desired result of any methodology.   

There are two purposes for methodology.  One purpose is to quantify similarities to accepted general measurements (common ground) to determine applicability of the accepted general measurements; that purpose will favor conformity to general principles.  Those with objections that do not conform to general measurements (an outlier) will either be forced to conform to general principles or will be punished in some manner (rejecting the validity of an objection is a form of punishment). 

The other purpose is to evaluate each objection on its own merits to determine if the objection is sincere and to determine if forcing the objector to conform to general principles imposes an overly detrimental hardship.  The process allows challenging the validity of general principles when objections do not conform to general measurements; which addresses the inherent imperfection of general principles.

To me it seems that the expressed need for methodology is really about achieving conformity to general principles based upon the idea that "the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few".  But the inherent imperfection of general principles establishes moral dilemmas of "how close is close enough?", "how many is too few?", "how perfect is perfect enough?".  Focusing attention on those moral questions depends upon tacit acceptance of the validity of the general principles that resulted in the moral questions and created the conflict.  How much conflict and harm is acceptable as a general principle?

Do the needs of the many really outweigh the needs of the few?  Is that general principle really valid?  Is the expressed need for methodology guided by valid general principles?  What needs are sufficiently important?  How many is enough to disregard the needs of the few?  How imperfect is perfect enough?  Is the moral imperative really moral?

6  author  Enoch    2 weeks ago

Dear Friend Nerm_L: Your final inquiry in the powerful tour de force presented is certainly worth a prioritized go on my part.

"Is the moral imperative really moral"?  

In whatever direction one heads based on the model used there will always be moral implications.

As to majority minority (many few) we are dealing in medical bio ethics with a resource contention problem.

Using the Hax-Majluf MIT Sloan School Growth Share Matrix method for resolving such gives us four options.

In the comparison contrast to decide where the biggest bang for the buck on scarce resources is the short medium and long term payback is used to stratify where to put what is available for maximum returns.

In this methodology whichever of the four categories yields sufficient payback to for itself, and generate additional resources for one or more the the other three choices is thought to be the way to go.

The moral point addressed is that what works best to increase options to provide for the most needs rules.

This is, of course a theoretical exercise.

More details on the specifics of the choice would be helpful in addressing the fascinating issue you pose.

I hope this provides some assistance in your insightful probe.





6.1  Nerm_L  replied to  Enoch @6    2 weeks ago
In whatever direction one heads based on the model used there will always be moral implications.

Therein lies the difficulty for identifying objective truth; to be objective there can be no exceptions.  All humans are born and all humans die are objective truths because there are no exceptions.  So, the idea that "the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few" cannot be objectively true.

What that leads toward is a rational understanding that much of what we consider truth is imperfect.  Questioning the validity of an imperfect truth is actually quite rational.  

Using the Hax-Majluf MIT Sloan School Growth Share Matrix method for resolving such gives us four options.

Again, that would be a pragmatic approach.  But pragmatism attempts to use objective measures to somehow impart objectivity onto truth; we may be fooling ourselves.  Michaelangelo's trifles (statistical outliers) impose themselves onto the process of objectifying truth.  The question then becomes "how true is true enough?"

Our imperfections establish imperfect truths that serve as common ground.  We may strive to achieve perfection (strive to objectively establish truth) but that does not allow us to declare that questioning an imperfect truth is irrational.  The truth of the majority cannot be objectively true since there is a minority exception.  I suggest that we should (note should) apply truth with humility rather than hubris.

6.1.1  author  Enoch  replied to  Nerm_L @6.1    one week ago

Dear Friend Nerm_L: I do not agree that for something to be objectively true there can be no exceptions to rules.

There are exceptions which prove rules all the time.

The world is a very sloppy place.

If something is true, for whom is it true?

Perhaps only half the question has been posed.

A Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Law of Excluded Middle rarely functions well in the world of metaphysics, however well it succeeds in lower level of realith endeavors like science with its reductionist epistemological model.

So is it true that atheism is the best way to go for those to whom it speaks, while theism or deism is best for those to whom it speaks?

How about those who change positions over the course of life like we change out of summer suits in high winter for warmer clothing?

If a theory seems to work well most of the time, and there is not a better one in the offing maybe we should go with it for now.

I, for one do not lose sleep when desert island examples are legitimate, but do not adversely effect the value of a working hypothesis.

The problem may not at all be which of a two value system is true.

The error may be trying to fit the round two value system in the square multi facited nature of reality.

See Martin Buber's Concept of the Self under thesis abstracts 1974 Kansas University at Lawrence for a detailed monograph on just this point. 

Good thoughts Nerm.

Well done, dear friend.



6.1.2  Nerm_L  replied to  Enoch @6.1.1    one week ago
If something is true, for whom is it true?

If something is objectively true then it must be true for everyone.  

So is it true that atheism is the best way to go for those to whom it speaks, while theism or deism is best for those to whom it speaks?

Atheism can only be a subjective truth since some are atheists while others are theists.  The truth of atheism only applies to atheists.

Here's a pop fly that might shatter a window:  consider that human truths only apply to humans.

6.1.3  author  Enoch  replied to  Nerm_L @6.1.2    one week ago

Dear Friend Nerm_L: Issues raised covered in other posts.

Thanks for providing.


6.2  Nerm_L  replied to  Enoch @6    2 weeks ago
The moral point addressed is that what works best to increase options to provide for the most needs rules.

This is, of course a theoretical exercise.

More details on the specifics of the choice would be helpful in addressing the fascinating issue you pose.

Which begins drifting into the topic of intellectual honesty that TiG explored with his article.  My contention on TiG's article was that evolved problem solving is what makes humans human.  Setting goals and objectives creates the problem of achieving the goals and objectives and establishes a confirmation bias toward solving those problems.  Critical thinking and intellectual honesty are necessary to properly formulate goals and objectives because the process of achieving goals and objectives is self regulated by confirmation biases that result in cherry picking.   Human nature as evolved problem solvers is not objective and does not require intellectual honesty once the goal and problem have been created.

I believe the same human behaviors apply to questions of truth, as well.  Consider:

"Everything has a beginning and end" expresses a truth.  "Every 'thing' has a beginning and end" expresses a different truth.  They are not analogous or equivalent truths.

Critical thinking and intellectual honesty are necessary for proper formulation of truth.  Poorly formulated truth as the basis for general principles will directly influence decisions about "how close is close enough" and "how far apart is too far".  What results when a truth is poorly formulated, when a truth is not true enough, is a rejection of general principles.  

Subjective morality arises when truth is not true enough.  To me, that suggests that critically thinking and intellectual honesty was not applied at the beginning when the truth was formulated.  No amount of critical thinking or intellectual honesty can correct a truth that is not true enough.  Once a truth has been created it's too late for critical thinking and intellectual honesty to apply that truth in a moral manner.

6.2.1  author  Enoch  replied to  Nerm_L @6.2    one week ago

Dear Friend Nerm_L: The problem may well not be which of the two options, universally or existentially quantified truth is correct.

The problem may well be the notion that the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Law of Excluded Middle (See his Monadology, among other works) is a two value system in a multi-value world. 

The idea that truth must be eternal, immutable, perfect and self-fulfilling sometimes works perfectly. The 613 Torah Mitzvoth (Divine Commandments) are a good example of this.

Very often, in other contexts this model falls flat on its kisser.

This is so because it asks only one half the question.

If an atheist or agnostic makes an argument based on a reductionist epistemological model for how they choose to navigate life, and it works for them, I say have it for you and yours. Live and let live. Do what best works for you and yours. Let it bring out the most noble in you.  

For theists, deists, spiritualists and various humanitarians whose epistemology is adequate to differentiate between the physical and metaphysical aspects of life it will not do.

This precludes what best works for us in living our lives most fully, abundantly, ethically, meaningfully and humanely.

It does so even though it doesn't stand up to rigorous epistemological and ontological analysis. 

This gets to the heart of the sin of evangelism (See Vayekra - Deuteronomy, all of 13. Key in on 13.5).

Because something works well (assuming it does) for some does not mean it works well, or even works at all for others.

It may well be counter-productive for them.  

The to each their own approach, using what works best for each individual and/or group better reflects the diverse, subtle and complex nature of reality.

A value of critical thinking is that it is used to tease out either what was always there but needed time to surface, or became true by innovation.

Therein lies the great debate between Martin Buber, Franz Rosenzweig, Jacques Maritain, and Paul Tillich on the one hand; and Jean Paul Sartre et all on the other.

The manifold rather than two fold nature of reality and its truths is well explicated, and available to read in a University of Kansas at Lawrence thesis abstract, Martin Buber's Concept of the Self (1974).    

Trying to fit into the two value square hole of a truth theory a round hole of multi-valued reality is a category mistake. 

See Gilbert Ryle's The Dogma of the Ghost in the Machine.  

Critical thinking can be of value in the process, on whatever side of the fence one stands existentially.

But this only works if what is called critical thinking is not fixing the game before it starts with defective, inadequate epistemological model(s) to rig the contest of ideas in order to let anti-religious, anti-spiritual and in some cases anti-secular humanitarian bigoted approaches to life prevail.

One measure of the intellectual honesty of an approach is whether to not the end result is assumed, and proved by limiting the discussion to models which support the favored conclusion. This is, as it should be morally repugnant.

Good work again Nerm.






6.2.2  TᵢG  replied to  Enoch @6.2.1    one week ago
One measure of the intellectual honesty of an approach is whether to not the end result is assumed, and proved by limiting the discussion to models which support the favored conclusion.

A note per your earlier reference of atheist and agnostic.   From the context it appears you might define atheist as 'one who believes there is no god' and agnostic as 'one who is not convinced there is a god'.   The term 'god' here refers to 'supreme creator entity'.   In my parlance I would label those 'gnostic atheist' and 'agnostic atheist'.   If that is what you had in mind, the two are dramatically different.   Now, using those definitions for the terms (assuming you agree), I will offer this:

The gnostic atheist has presupposed conditions well beyond his/her capabilities.   It is irrational to deem that there is no god;  nobody has the knowledge to make such a declaration because that knowledge is tantamount to omniscience.

In contrast, the agnostic atheist is not convinced a god exists.   There is no presupposition (and no end result assumed).   There is no mandate that supernatural entities are impossible.   It is simply that the evidence and reason thus far does not persuade the agnostic atheist that a god necessarily exists.   Crucially, however, the agnostic atheist is quite willing to consider evidence and reason because this individual typically follows the evidence to wherever it leads.   Also (and finally), the agnostic atheist does not dislike the notion of god or favor the idea that no god exists.   Indeed, some may think having such a protective (potentially) entity would be good.   It is quite simply that the case for god has not been made sufficiently to convince the agnostic atheist that god exists.

6.2.3  Nerm_L  replied to  Enoch @6.2.1    one week ago

Well, friend Enoch, it appears that you were posting a comment while I was composing another.  It seems we have anticipated each other.  Interesting how that works, isn't it?  Spiritual connections shouldn't be discounted so readily.

Critical thinking can be of value in the process, on whatever side of the fence one stands existentially.

But this only works if what is called critical thinking is not fixing the game before it starts with defective, inadequate epistemological model(s) to rig the contest of ideas in order to let anti-religious, anti-spiritual and in some cases anti-secular humanitarian bigoted approaches to life prevail.

One measure of the intellectual honesty of an approach is whether to not the end result is assumed, and proved by limiting the discussion to models which support the favored conclusion. This is, as it should be morally repugnant.

I am responding to your comment as a whole; I've only cited the summary for brevity but am not ignoring the full body of information you presented.  Instead of responding point by point, please, allow me to respond with a question that (hopefully) captures the richness of your remarks.

Have you considered why there have been prophets? 

As you point out, religious texts present both spiritual and physical truths combined into a broader truth influencing all aspects of life.  Religions try to identify specific truths as a greater understanding of a unified objective truth associated (and represented by) a god or deity.  Humans are imperfect so human truths are imperfect.  The source of objective truth must have achieved perfection; only a god can be perfect.  So, a god and objective truth, both being perfect, are equivalent.  Invoking the a god also invokes objective truth.  Asking if a god exists also asks if objective truth exists.  If objective truth exists then god must also exist.  The creation of the universe, the earth, and humans are objective truths; therefore, a god of creation must be an objective truth.

The problem is that imperfect humans interpret objective truth imperfectly.  As I point out in my comment @7 (below) imperfections and errors propagate and grow as imperfect truth is applied.

Seems to me that the function of prophets is to reset the interpretation of objective truth and remove propagated imperfections and errors.  Prophets renew and refresh interpretations of objective truth.  Since prophets are attuned to objective truth rather than human truth, prophets are sent by a god and are divine.

Critical thinking and intellectual honesty are means of striving for perfection by being more attuned to objective truth; a way to become more godly.  Critical thinking and intellectual honesty are the tools of prophets.  Those who reject the existence of objective truth cannot achieve perfection so their form of critical thinking and intellectual honesty will always be imperfect; they cannot be prophets.

6.2.4  author  Enoch  replied to  TᵢG @6.2.2    one week ago

Dear Friend TiG: Good contribution here.

Food for thought.

We are grateful.

Thanks for sharing.

Useful dichotomies.

Terms like theist, atheist and agnostic function as umbrella terms.

There are levels and often wide ranges of the way terms are used.

The same holds true for levels of sophistication on thought processes and expositions thereof.

As is the case for religions, so too for atheists and agnostics.

Premise sets, first principles and what is done with them vary so widely it is almost if not flat out impossible to make generalizations which will as an umbrella should big large enough to keep the owner dry without covering everyone at the bus stop in the rain.

All that said, and it needs to be, expecting from group to group to accept epistemological models on blind faith in order to weaponize them to discredit what one or another group don't care for is neither evidence or reason based.  

Things only work in such cases if all choose to accept the first principles of the other.

None has sufficient reason to do so. 

Given what happens in each collective group, (even though they may have little more in common than sharing the same umbrella label) which counts as evidence given what they are doing toward their having the best of all possible worlds in how to navigate the rocky waters of life.

We wish you well in your approach.

If it speaks to  you and yours, then it is the right way for all of you to go.

You have our support.



6.2.5  author  Enoch  replied to  Nerm_L @6.2.3    one week ago

Dear Friend Nerm_L: It seems you TiG and I enjoy and profit from each others views and thought processes arriving at same.

Good on us all.

"Come, let us reason together".

Nevi'im (Prophets) is one of the three major sections of Jewish Hebrew and Aramaic primary Scripture.

TaNaCh (correct name for Jewish primary devotional literature) is comprised of Torah, guides for best living life; Nevi'im, (Prophets) the moral dimension of going through life in a way that enhances rather than detracts from the legitimate life activities of others; and Catuvim, (Writings, from the verb stem Shoresh Lichtov). This is all the other writings in TaNaCh until 70 BCE at the Council of Yamniah (Jamniah) when TaNaCh was canonized.

In your insightful inquiry about why there were Prophets, and that there are physical and spiritual truths let me try to make the case for each of your excellent points.

Certainly there were ethical laws among the 613 original commandments (Mitzvoth).

There are also purely spiritual commandments.

Right from the get go both are constructively construed as a necessary and necessary part of life.

The value of an epistemological model which can accommodate both is a strong foundation for accepting such an approach to life worth living.

Truth models relying on science and its reductionist model are impotent when it comes to building systems and methodologies for value theory and resultant ethics.

Physics is not metaphysics. Ordinary language and concepts are not meta-language and metaphysical concepts. 

That produces societies where morality is, if present at all, subservient to power and money grabbing concerns.

Do we really want to reside, raise our children and grand children in such?  

I do not observe Americans rushing to move to North Korea.

At lower more physical levels of human activity where hard sciences like physics, chemistry and biology; and softer sciences like sociology, psychology and anthropology these reductionist models work best.

By the bye, there is plenty of humanity produced by such activity.

Last year I had open heart surgery.

If I had not, I would be pushing up the daisies.

Instead, I am still here for as long as I can to be there for those with Pastoral Care and/or Rabbinical needs and services.

I endorse science where it works.

I have no problems tabling it where it doesn't.

Then I go with what best does.

It is the essence of pragmatism that we use in specific contexts what is most effective in each. 

Such is the stuff of placing ways to help others over doctrine purity.

Nerm_L, you and TiG bring so much to anyone who chooses to, now or later, read these back and forth dialogues.

Because of the great contributions you both make on high level discussions many of the facets of the gemstones of virtue seeking inquiries are presented. Let the viewing public to read and choose.Vox Populi. Let the voice of the people be heard.

If it does not suffice for them, good. It may stimulate them to come up with their own. 

Hopefully one way or the other they will share.

As that great poet, mystic and Saint Barney (the purple Dinosaur) once said, "Share share. That's fair".


Profound gratitude to you and TiG.

Good show dear friends.



7  Nerm_L    one week ago

So, to continue the exposition (or boring mismash of obscurities, depending upon one's point of view) in a more pragmatically quantitative manner; humans are evolved problem solvers.  The natural human trait is to observe, collect data, identify trends, and use those trends as general principles.  Statistical curve fitting regression can be applied to a scatter plot of data to produce a mathematical expression as a general description within a confidence level.  Generating general principles can be fast, efficient, and pragmatic.  

However, applying the mathematical expression often overlooks that very little of the data actually fell upon the curve.  The general description of the observed data is not perfect.  The question "how close is close enough?" can be answered with statistical confidence.  But that assurance ignores that almost every answer obtained from the mathematical expression contains some degree of error.  And the question "how far apart is too far?" can be answered with the same statistical confidence so that the outlier can be declared invalid.  But is the error in the data point itself or in the imperfection of the mathematical expression?

We can fool ourselves into believing that a general description has revealed itself from objective observations so must be an objective truth.  But that ignores that the general description is imperfect and can only be applied imperfectly; almost every application of a general description of a trend contains some degree of error.  How true is true enough to be an objective truth?  Imperfections propagate with application of imperfect general descriptions.

Methodology for application of general principles should (note should) account for the propagation of imperfections affecting the desired result.  Answering the questions "how close is close enough" and "how far apart is too far" are really about conformity to an imperfect description of a trend.  Improving the confidence of the fit will still only provide imperfect results.  Not every outlier is invalid just because it does not fit the trend.  No matter how small, the imperfections and errors will propagate and grow.

7.1  author  Enoch  replied to  Nerm_L @7    one week ago

Dear Friend Nerm_L: How far and how close are too far and too close are less dependent on the statistical models of whatever best constitutes evidence than they are to applicability of one to the other.

As ever, thanks for contributing.




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