forum 7: week of 27 Feb - pragmatic encroachment

Fragment of a discussion from Course talk:Phil440A
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I have no problem with claims (1) or (2). (3) 'If you know O will have the best outcome you should do O' is where I identify a problem. It seems like an oversimplification that requires some clarification.

There are many factors that need to be considered in deciding which option will be best which is why some examples are so problematic for the argument. (3) relies on the assumption that in every given case there will be an option that will undeniably lead to the best outcome but there are no universal criteria for what makes an outcome the best.

Is the best option the one that is most likely to have a favourable outcome? This can't be it since what is most probable is not always the rational choice to make.

What is the 'best option' also varies from different viewpoints and amounts of evidence available. Is the best option objective and based on the evidence that would be available to an omniscient observer? Or is the best option subjective and only based on the evidence of whoever is making the decision? And if it is subjective is it based on evidence available only in the split second before the decision must be made? These issues need to be resolved before the third assumption is permissible.

23:52, 3 March 2012

In Jim's Churchill example,a crucial point that needs to be made is that Churchill was bluffing.That is to say,deceit played a role in the forming of a historic outcome.In the Churchill example it is a passive,tacit form of deceit.(lie by omission,undisclosure)Closer to home a more active example of deceit is provided by the tale of one of Tecumseh's tactics in the War of 1812-14. The great First Nations leader,in collaboration with the British general Brock,was able to convince a large attack force of American troops stationed at their fort in Detroit,that The Canadian defense forces were mightier in number than they indeed were.After having Brock send the Americans a letter declaring that 5000 Canadians were on the way,Tecumseh had his small band, upon their arrival,circle the fort single file through a clearing.He then had them double back through the woods to repeat their appearance of passing through the clearing repeatedly, giving the appearance to the Americans that they were vastly outnumbered.Subsequently,the Americans,under General Hull sent out a white flag and surrendered Fort Detroit,suffering at that time their greatest loss of territory to a foreign power,and affecting the course of the war.Relating these historic examples to point (2),the stakes being high would surely have to include the active and even probable likelihood that deceit will be involved in affecting outcomes given that warfare is a life and death struggle in which the stakes are dramatically heightened.

19:22, 5 March 2012