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Hedonism – New World Encyclopedia

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Mar 282016
 

Hedonism (Greek: hdon ( from Ancient Greek) “pleasure” +ism) is a philosophical position that takes the pursuit of pleasure as the primary motivating element of life, based upon a view that “pleasure is good.” The concept of pleasure is, however, understood and approached in a variety of ways, and hedonism is classified accordingly.

The three basic types of philosophical hedonism are psychological hedonism, which holds that the tendency to seek pleasure and avoid pain is an essential attribute of human nature; evaluative or ethical hedonism, which sets up certain ethical or moral ends as desirable because attaining them will result in happiness; and reflective, or normative hedonism, which seeks to define value in terms of pleasure. The ancient Greek philosophers Democritus, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Epicurus (341 270 B.C.E.) and their followers developed ethical theories centered on the good life (the ideal life, the life most worth living, eudaimonia, happiness) and the role of pleasure of achieving it. During the Middle Ages, hedonism was rejected as incompatible with Christian ideals, but Renaissance philosophers revived it on the grounds that God intended man to be happy. Nineteenth-century British philosophers John Stuart Mill and Jeremy Bentham established the ethical theory of Utilitarianism with a hedonistic orientation, holding that all action should be directed toward achieving the greatest amount of happiness for the greatest number of people.

There are many philosophical forms of hedonism, but they can be distinguished into three basic types: psychological hedonism; evaluative, or ethical hedonism; and reflective, or rationalizing hedonism. Psychological hedonism holds that it is an essential aspect of human nature to seek pleasure and avoid pain; human beings cannot act in any other way. A human being will always act in a way that, to his understanding, will produce what he perceives as the greatest pleasure, or protect him from undesirable pain. Psychological hedonism is either based on observation of human behavior, or necessitated by a definition of desire. Psychological hedonism is often a form of egoism, preoccupied with pleasure of the individual subject, but it can also be concerned with the pleasure of society or humanity as a whole. Altruistic versions of psychological hedonism involve deep-seated convictions, cultural or religious beliefs which motivate a person to act for the benefit of family or society, or the expectation of an afterlife. Problems of psychological hedonism include the definitions of desire and pleasure. Is desire tied to the satisfaction of physical sensations or does it extend to mental and rational conceptions of pleasure? Are all positive experiences, even minor and mundane ones, psychological motivations?

Evaluative hedonism is an attempt to set up certain ends or goals as desirable, and to persuade others that these goals ought to be pursued, and that achieving them will result in pleasure. Evaluative hedonism is sometimes used to support or justify an existing system of moral values. Many altruistic and utilitarian moral systems are of this type, because they encourage the individual to sacrifice or restrict immediate sensual gratification in favor of a more rational gratification, such as the satisfaction of serving others, or the maintenance of an egalitarian society where every individual receives certain benefits. Evaluative hedonism raises the problem of deciding exactly what ends are desirable, and why.

Reflective, normative, or rationalizing hedonism, seeks to define value in terms of pleasure. Even the most complex human pursuits are attributed to the desire to maximize pleasure, and it is that desire which makes them rational. Objections to determining value based on pleasure include the fact that there is no common state or property found in all experiences of pleasure, which could be used to establish an objective measurement. Not all experiences of pleasure could be considered valuable, particularly if they arise from criminal activity or weakness of character, or cause harm to others. Another objection is that there are many other types of valuable experiences besides the immediate experience of pleasure, such as being a good parent, creating a work of art or choosing to act with integrity, which, though they could be said to produce some kind of altruistic pleasure, are very difficult to categorize and quantify. Normative hedonism determines value solely according to the pleasure experienced, without regard for the future pleasure or pain resulting from a particular action.

Among the ancient Greek philosophers, discussion of ethical theory often centered on the good life (the ideal life, the life most worth living, eudaimonia, happiness) and the role of pleasure of achieving it. Various expressions of the concept that pleasure is the good were developed by philosophers such as Democritus, Aristippus, Plato, Aristotle and Epicurus and their followers, and vigorously disagreed with by their opponents. Aristippus (fifth century B.C.E.) and the Cyrenaic school maintained that the greatest good was the pleasure of the moment and advocated a life of sensual pleasure, on the grounds that all living creatures pursue pleasure and avoid pain. This position reflected a skepticism that only the sensations of the moment could be known, and that concern with the past or the future only caused uncertainty and anxiety and should be avoided.

Ancient Greeks looked to the natural world and agreed that every organism was motivated to act for its own good, but differed as to whether that good was pleasure. Democritus (c. 460 c. 370 B.C.E.) is reported to have held that the supreme good was a pleasant state of tranquility of mind (euthumia), and that particular pleasures or pains should be chosen according to how they contributed to that tranquility. In the Protagoras, Socrates (470 -399 B.C.E.) presented a version of Democritean hedonism which included a method for calculating relative pleasures and pains. Socrates argued that an agents own good was not immediate pleasure, and that it was necessary to differentiate between pleasures that promoted good, and harmful pleasures. In his later dialogues, Plato (c. 428 -347 B.C.E.) agreed that while the good life was pleasant, the goodness consisted in rationality and the pleasantness was an adjunct.

Aristotle challenged the definition of pleasure as a process of remedying a natural deficiency in the organism (satisfying hunger, thirst, desire), declaring instead that pleasure occurs when a natural potentiality for thought or perception is realized in perfect conditions. Every kind of actualization has its own pleasure; the pleasure of thought, the pleasure of art, the bodily pleasures. Eudaimonia (the ideal state of existence) consists of the optimal realization of mans capacity for thought and rational choice; it would naturally be characterized by the greatest degree of pleasure.

Epicurus (341 270 B.C.E.) and his school distinguished two types of pleasure: the pleasure that supplying the deficiency of an organism (such as hunger or desire) and the pleasure experienced when the organism is in a stable state, free from all pain or disturbance. He gave supremacy to the latter type, and emphasized the reduction of desire over the immediate acquisition of pleasure. Epicurus claimed that the highest pleasure consists of a simple, moderate life spent with friends and in philosophical discussion, and discouraged overindulgence of any kind because it would ultimately lead to some kind of pain or instability.

We recognize pleasure as the first good innate in us, and from pleasure we begin every act of choice and avoidance, and to pleasure we return again, using the feeling as the standard by which we judge every good. (Epicurus, “Letter to Menoeceus”)

Christian philosophers of the Middle Ages denounced Epicurean hedonism as inconsistent with the Christian aims of avoiding sin, obeying the will of God, cultivating virtues such as charity and faith, and seeking a reward in the afterlife for sacrifice and suffering on earth. During the Renaissance, philosophers such as Erasmus (1465 1536) revived hedonism on the grounds that it was Gods wish for human beings to be happy and experience pleasure. In describing the ideal society of his Utopia (1516), Thomas More said that “the chief part of a person’s happiness consists of pleasure.” More argued that God created man to be happy, and uses the desire for pleasure to motivate moral behavior. More made a distinction between pleasures of the body and pleasures of the mind, and urged the pursuit of natural pleasures rather than those produced by artificial luxuries.

During the eighteenth century, Francis Hutcheson (1694-1747) and David Hume (1711-1776) systematically examined the role of pleasure and happiness in morality and society; their theories were precursors to utilitarianism.

The nineteenth-century British philosophers John Stuart Mill and Jeremy Bentham established fundamental principles of hedonism through their ethical theory of Utilitarianism. Utilitarian value stands as a precursor to hedonistic values in that all action should be directed toward achieving the greatest amount of happiness for the greatest number of people. All actions are to be judged on the basis of how much pleasure they produce in relation to the amount of pain that results from them. Since utilitarianism was dealing with public policy, it was necessary to develop a hedonistic calculus to assign a ratio of pleasure to pain for any given action or policy. Though consistent in their pursuit of the greatest amount of pleasure for the greatest number of people, Bentham and Mill differed in the methods by which they measured happiness.

Jeremy Bentham and his followers argued a quantitative approach. Bentham believed that the value of a pleasure could be understood by multiplying its intensity by its duration. Not only the number of pleasures, but their intensity and duration had to be taken into account. Benthams quantitative theory identified six dimensions of value in a pleasure or pain: intensity, duration, certainty or uncertainty, propinquity or remoteness, fecundity, and purity (Bentham 1789, ch. 4).

John Stuart Mill argued for a qualitative approach. Mill believed that there are different levels of pleasure, and that pleasure of a higher quality has more value than pleasure of a lower quality. Mill suggested that simpler beings (he often referenced pigs) have easier access to the simpler pleasures; since they are not aware of other aspects of life, they can simply indulge themselves without thinking. More elaborate beings think more about other matters and hence lessen the time they spend on the enjoyment of simple pleasures. Critics of the qualitative approach found several problems with it. They pointed out that ‘pleasures’ do not necessarily share common traits, other than the fact that they can be seen as “pleasurable.” The definition of ‘pleasant’ is subjective and differs among individuals, so the ‘qualities’ of pleasures are difficult to study objectively and in terms of universal absolutes. Another objection is that quality is not an intrinsic attribute of pleasure; the quality of pleasure is judged either its quantity and intensity or by some non-hedonistic value (such as altruism or the capacity to elevate the mind).

Nature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign masters, pain, and pleasure. It is for them alone to point out what we ought to do, as well as to determine what we shall do. (Bentham 1789)

Christian Hedonism is a term coined in 1986 for a theological movement originally conceived by a pastor, Dr. John Piper, in his book, Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist. The tenets of this philosophy are that humans were created by (the Christian) God with the priority purpose of lavishly enjoying God through knowing, worshiping, and serving Him. This philosophy recommends pursuing one’s own happiness in God as the ultimate in human pleasure. Similar to the Epicurean view, the highest pleasure is regarded as something long-term and found not in indulgence but in a life devoted to God. Serious questions have been raised within the Christian community as to whether Christian Hedonism displaces “love God” with “enjoy God” as the greatest and foremost commandment.

A typical apologetic for Christian Hedonism is that if you are to love something truly, then you must truly enjoy it. It could be summed up in this statement: “God is most glorified in us, when we are most satisfied in Him.”

More recently, the term Christian Hedonism has been used by the French philosopher Michel Onfray to qualify the various heretic movements from Middle-Age to Montaigne.

In common usage, the word hedonism is often associated with self-indulgence and having a very loose or liberal view of the morality of sex. Most forms of hedonism actually concentrate on spiritual or intellectual goals, or the pursuit of general well-being.

All links retrieved February 13, 2014.

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Transhumanism – RationalWiki

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Mar 252016
 

You know what they say the modern version of Pascal’s Wager is? Sucking up to as many Transhumanists as possible, just in case one of them turns into God. Julie from Crystal Nights by Greg Egan

Transhumanism (or H+), broadly speaking, is a futurist movement with a set of beliefs with a common theme of anticipating an evolutionary plateau beyond the current Homo sapiens. The term was coined and movement founded by the biologist Julian Huxley in 1957.

The general expectation is that in the near future greater manipulation of human nature will be possible because of the adoption of techniques apparent on the technological frontier: machine intelligence greater than that of contemporary humans, direct mind-computer interface, genetic engineering and nanotechnology. Transhumanists tend to believe that respect for human agency, even when practiced by humans in their current form, is valuable, however.

How plausible is transhumanism? In the 1930’s, many sensible people were sure human beings would never get to the moon and that was just one of many predictions that turned out incorrect.[1] Early 21st century people do not know one way or the other what will be possible in the future.

While frequently dismissed as mere speculation at best by most rationalists[citationneeded] (especially in light of the many failures of artificial intelligence), transhumanism is a strongly-held belief among many computer geeks, notably synthesizer and accessible computing guru Ray Kurzweil, a believer in the “technological singularity,” where technology evolves beyond humanity’s current capacity to understand or anticipate it, and Sun Microsystems founder and Unix demigod Bill Joy, who believes the inevitable result of AI research is the obsolescence of humanity.[2]

Certain recent technological advances are making the possibility of the realization of transhumanism appear more plausible: Scientists funded by the military developed an implant that can translate motor neuron signals into a form that a computer can use, thus opening the door for advanced prosthetics capable of being manipulated like biological limbs and producing sensory information.[3] This is on top of the earlier development of cochlear implants, which translate sound waves into nerve signals; they are often called “bionic ears.”[4]

Even DIY transhumanism is becoming an option, with people installing magnetic implants, allowing them to feel magnetic and electric fields.[5] Others have taken to wearing belts of magnets, in order to always be able to find magnetic north. Prosthetic limbs with some level of touch are also now being developed, a major milestone. [6]

Sadly, some followers of transhumanism[citationneeded] are based on a sort of blind-men-at-the-elephant thinking people assuming that because it can be imagined, it must be possible. Transhumanism is particularly associated with figures in computer science, which is a field that is in some ways more math and art than a true experimental science; as a result, a great many[citationneeded] transhumanists are technophiles with inevitabilist techno-utopian outlooks.

The example of the singularity is instructive; for a great many people, at least part of the singularity hinges on being able to create a true artificial intelligence. While it’s reasonable to contend that the complexity inherent in the human brain is entirely the result of mundane physics, and therefore can be reproduced in principle, singularitarians[citationneeded] tend to assume that the emulation of human intelligence not being impossible means having the ability to in the near future.

“Whole brain emulation” (WBE) is a term used by transhumanists to refer to, quite obviously, the emulation of a brain on a computer. While this is no doubt a possibility, it encounters two problems that keep it from being a certainty anytime in the near future.

The first is a philosophical objection: For WBE to work, “strong AI” (i.e. AI equivalent to or greater than human intelligence) must be attainable. A number of philosophical objections have been raised against strong AI, generally contending either that the mind or consciousness is not computable or that a simulation of consciousness is not equivalent to true consciousness (whatever that is). There is still controversy over strong AI in the field of philosophy of mind.[7]

A second possible objection is technological: WBE may not defy physics, but the technology to fully simulate a human brain (in the sense meant by transhumanists, at least) is a long way away. Currently, no computer (or network of computers) is powerful enough to simulate a human brain. Henry Markram, head of the Blue Brain Project, estimates that simulating a brain would require 500 petabytes of data for storage and that the power required to run the simulation would cost about $3 billion annually. (However, in 2008, he optimistically predicts this will be possible in ten years.[8]) In addition to technological limitations in computing, there are also the limits of neuroscience. Neuroscience currently relies on technology that can only scan the brain at the level of gross anatomy (e.g., fMRI, PET). Forms of single neuron imaging (SNI) have been developed recently, but they can only be used on animal subjects (usually rats) because they destroy neural tissue.[9]

Another transhumanist goal is mind uploading, which is one way they claim we will be able to achieve immortality. Aside from the problems with WBE listed above, mind uploading suffers a philosophical problem, namely the “swamp man problem.” That is, will the “uploaded” mind be “you” or simply a copy or facsimile of your mind? However, one possible way round this problem would be via incremental replacement of parts of the brain with their cybernetic equivalents (the patient being awake during each operation). Then there is no “breaking” of the continuity of the individual’s consciousness, and it becomes difficult for proponents of the “swamp man” hypothesis to pinpoint exactly when the individual stops being “themselves.”

Cryonics is another favorite of many transhumanists. In principle, cryonics is not impossible, but the current form of it is based largely on hypothetical future technologies and costs substantial amounts of money.

Fighting aging and extending life expectancy is possible the field that studies aging and attempts to provide suggestions for anti-aging technology is known as “biogerontology.” Aubrey de Grey, a transhumanist, has proposed a number of treatments for aging. In 2005, 28 scientists working in biogerontology signed a letter to EMBO Reports pointing out that de Grey’s treatments had never been demonstrated to work and that many of his claims for anti-aging technology were extremely inflated.[10]

Worst of all, some transhumanists outright ignore what people in the fields they’re interested in tell them; a few AI boosters, for example, believe that neurobiology is an outdated science because AI researchers can do it themselves anyway.[citationneeded] They seem to have taken the analogy used to introduce the computational theory of mind, “the mind (or brain) is like a computer.” Of course, the mind/brain is not a computer in the usual sense.[11] Debates with such people can take on the wearying feel of a debate with a creationist or climate change denialist, as such people will stick to their positions no matter what. Indeed, many critics are simply dismissed as Luddites or woolly-headed romantics who oppose scientific and technological progress.[12]

Transhumanism has often been criticized for not taking ethical issues seriously on a variety of topics,[13] including life extension technology,[14] cryonics,[15] and mind uploading and other enhancements.[16][17] Francis Fukuyama (in his doctrinaire neoconservative days) caused a stir by naming transhumanism “the world’s most dangerous idea.”[18] One of Fukuyama’s criticisms, that implementation of the technologies transhumanists push for will lead to severe inequality, is a rather common one.

A number of political criticisms of transhumanism have been made as well. Transhumanist organizations have been accused of being in the pocket of corporate and military interests.[19] The movement has been identified with Silicon Valley due to the fact that some of its biggest backers, such as Peter Thiel (of PayPal and Bitcoin fame), reside in the region.[20][21] Some writers see transhumanism as a hive of cranky and obnoxious techno-libertarianism.[22][23] The fact that Julian Huxley coined the term “transhumanism” and many transhumanists’ obsession with constructing a Nietzschean ubermensch known as the “posthuman” has led to comparisons with eugenics.[24][19] Like eugenics, it has been characterized as a utopian political ideology.[25] Jaron Lanier slammed it as “cybernetic totalism”.[26]

Some tension has developed between transhumanism and religion, namely Christianity. Some transhumanists, generally being atheistic naturalists, see all religion as an impediment to scientific and technological advancement and some Christians oppose transhumanism because of its stance on cloning and genetic engineering and label it as a heretical belief system.[27] Other transhumanists, however, have attempted to extend an olive branch to Christians.[28] Some have tried to reconcile their religion and techno-utopian beliefs, calling for a “scientific theology.”[29] There is even a Mormon transhumanist organization.[30]Ironically for the atheistic transhumanists, the movement has itself been characterized as a religion and its rhetoric compared to Christian apologetics.[31][32]

The very small political transhumanist political movement[wp] has gained momentum with Zoltan Istvan[wp] announcing his bid for US president, with the Transhumanist Party and other small political parties gaining support internationally.

The important thing about transhumanism is that while a lot of such predictions may in fact be possible (and may even be in their embryonic stages right now), a strong skeptical eye is required for any claimed prediction about the fields it covers. When evaluating such a claim, one will probably need a trip to a library (or Wikipedia, or a relevant scientist’s home page) to get up to speed on the basics.[33]

A common trope in science fiction for decades is that the prospect of transcending the current form may be positive, as in Arthur C. Clarke’s 1953 novel Childhood’s End or negative, as in the film The Matrix, with its barely disguised salvationist theme, or the Terminator series of films, where humanity has been essentially replaced by machine life. Change so radical elicits fear and thus it is unsurprising that many of the portrayals of transhumanism in popular culture are negative. The cyberpunk genre deals extensively with the theme of a transhumanist society gone wrong.

Among the utopian visions of transhumanism (fused with libertarianism) are those found in the collaborative online science fiction setting Orion’s Arm. Temporally located in the post-singularity future, 10,000 years from now, Orion’s Arm is massively optimistic about genetic engineering, continued improvements in computing and materials science. Because only technology which has been demonstrated to be impossible is excluded, even remotely plausible concepts has a tendency to be thrown in. At the highest end of the scale is artificial wormhole creation, baby universes and inertia without mass.[34]

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How to Open an Offshore Bank Account in Singapore

 Offshore Banking  Comments Off on How to Open an Offshore Bank Account in Singapore
Mar 132016
 

Posted on: January 26, 2010 by editor IMPORTANT UPDATE!

Since the publication of this article, it has become a great deal more difficult to open an account in either Hong Kong or Singapore. To find out which jurisdictions are now better options for you, please read our Practical International Banking Guide, in which you will find the names and contact details of individual personnel within banks all around the world.

Singapore is a convenient destination to protect and add value to your international wealth according to the website of one of the 205 banks operating in Singapore today. I couldnt have put it better myself!

Singapore has developed in recent years into a sophisticated private banking and wealth management base for Asia. But besides targeting their traditional but fast growing market of wealthy entrepreneurs in Asia, the best offshore banks in Singapore today are also developing products and services tailored for North Americans, Europeans and Australians, including multi currency accounts.

UPDATE 2015 For the Latest information, names, addresses and contacts, see the latest Offshore International Banking Guide 2015

If this sounds like you, read on to find out about some of the advantages and disadvantages of opening an offshore bank account in Singapore, and learn how to open an offshore bank account as a non-resident. Is Singapore the best offshore banking country for the new decade?

Singapore Banks Among The Best

Typical investors from this latter group are looking for first-world banking services, delivered over the internet in English, in a country that is outside the zone of influence of the United States and the European Union.

One of the worlds most prosperous countries, Singapore today boasts a prominent financial centre and highly developed economy. Its flexible regulatory framework, independent judiciary and practical English-inspired legal system have become the foundations of the countrys success.

In common with most offshore financial centres, interest earned by individuals on bank deposits and foreign sourced income including foreign sourced dividends received on non-Singaporeans securities is exempt from Singapore taxes. Singapore also has no capital gains tax nor estate duty on bank deposits and investments.

Accounts can freely be maintained in all major currencies. These multi currency accounts provide an excellent hedge for those of us who foresee major devaluations of currencies like the dollar and the euro in the months and years ahead.

Accounts may also be opened in the name of foreign entities like corporations, trusts and LLCs, achieving even greater privacy and asset protection benefits, and sometimes legally sidestepping any requirement to report assets as personal holdings.

All these benefits are delivered in a strong bank secrecy regime, helping account holders to protect their investments from prying eyes inside or outside the country. Banking secrecy in Singapore is not just laid down by law, but is part of the national business culture. Indeed, tax authorities in Singapore are specifically blocked from having any access to individual bank accounts.

As in Asia in general, a lot of business in Singapore has traditionally been carried out in cash. This is epitomised by the $10,000 bill, the largest bank note in the world: at current exchange rates (January 2010) one of these bills is worth more than seven thousand US dollars. These days, however, as restrictions on cash are becoming tighter, sophisticated internet banking is becoming the norm.

So, if you are not resident in Singapore how can you access these banking services? Everything starts with opening a basic current, savings or checking account the basis of your banking relationship.

One of the disadvantages of banking in Singapore is that you will need to go there to open an account. Banking regulations do not permit the opening of accounts by mail, unless the client is already known to the bank. The only possible exception to this is opening an account at one of the many banks in Singapore that send officers to visit their wealthier clients in their overseas homes, or have associated offices in other countries. HSBC clients, for example, may be able to open accounts at HSBC in Singapore via their local offices. The above process, however, is not advisable if banking secrecy is important to you since it leaves permanent records of your accounts accessible in other jurisdictions. In any case I always recommend visiting at least once so you can get to know your banker personally.

Apart from that, opening your account should be relatively straightforward. There are few complications. If you choose one of the commercial banks such as DBS Bank or United Overseas Bank, a few hundred dollars will be enough to open an account. If you want a higher level of personal service and are prepared to make a higher deposit, lets say over a hundred thousand dollars or equivalent (bank policies vary widely), contact one of the more discreet private banking operations. I recommend you go for one of the lower profile ones, since they tend to offer the best privacy protection.

A full list of banks operating in Singapore is available on Wikipedia, and you can contact them directly. It is always easier, however, if you have an introduction from a regulated professional who is known to the bank, such as a lawyer, accountant or company formation agent.

My firm can help with that, for example, if you are a Q Wealth member. Membership starts at just $99 per yearso wont break the bank!

In terms of documentation needed to open an offshore account, you will be expected to provide proof of who you are (a copy of your passport), where you live (such as a utility bill) and most importantly of all, proof that the funds come from a legitimate source. For example, if the funds you are depositing were obtained from a real estate sale or from an inheritance, you would show the relevant legal documents to prove this. Finally, it is advisable to take a letter of reference from your bankers at home, introducing you as a responsible account holder. This bank reference may be addressed to whom it may concern.

Note: Peter Macfarlane is editor of the Practical Offshore Banking Guide, an annually updated guide available free to readers of The Q Wealth Report. If you havent got yours yet, sign up today to access this information.

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How to Open an Offshore Bank Account in Singapore

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Rationalism – New World Encyclopedia

 Rationalism  Comments Off on Rationalism – New World Encyclopedia
Jan 202016
 

Rationalism is a broad family of positions in epistemology. Perhaps the best general description of rationalism is the view that there are some distinctive aspects or faculties of the mind that (1) are distinct from passive aspects of the mind such as sense-perceptions and (2) someway or other constitute a special source (perhaps only a partial source) of knowledge. These distinctive aspects are typically associated or identified with human abilities to engage in mathematics and abstract reasoning, and the knowledge they provide is often seen as of a type that could not have come from other sources. Philosophers who resist rationalism are usually grouped under the heading of empiricists, who are often allied under the claim that all human knowledge comes from experience.

The debate around which the rationalism/empiricism distinction revolves is one of the oldest and most continuous in philosophy. Some of Plato’s most explicit arguments address the topic and it was arguably the central concern of many of the Modern thinkers. Indeed, Kant’s principal works were concerned with “pure” faculties of reason. Contemporary philosophers have advanced and refined the issue, though there are current thinkers who align themselves with either side of the tradition.

It is difficult to identify a major figure in the history to whom some rationalist doctrine has not been attributed at some point. One reason for this is that there is no question that humans possess some sort of reasoning ability that allows them to come to know some facts they otherwise wouldn’t (for instance, mathematical facts), and every philosopher has had to acknowledge this fact. Another reason is that the very business of philosophy is to achieve knowledge by using the rational faculties, in contrast to, for instance, mystical approaches to knowledge. Nevertheless, some philosophical figures stand out as attributing even greater significance to reasoning abilities. Three are discussed here: Plato, Descartes, and Kant.

The most famous metaphysical doctrine of the great Greek philosopher Plato is his doctrine of “Forms,” as espoused in The Republic and other dialogues. The Forms are described as being outside of the world as experience by the senses, but as somehow constituting the metaphysical basis of the world. Exactly how they fulfill this function is generally only gestured at through analogies, though the Timaeus describes the Forms as operating as blueprints for the craftsman of the universe.

The distinctiveness of Plato’s rationalism lies in another aspect of his theory of Forms. Though the common sense position is that the senses are one’s best means of getting in touch with reality, Plato held that human reasoning ability was the one thing that allowed people to approach the Forms, the most fundamental aspects of reality. It is worth pausing to reflect on how radical this idea is: On such a view, philosophical attempts to understand the nature of “good” or “just” are not mere analyses of concepts formed, but rather explorations of eternal things that are responsible for shaping the reality of the sensory world.

The French philosopher Ren Descartes, whose Meditations on First Philosophy defined the course of much philosophy from then up till the present day, stood near the beginning of the Western European Enlightenment. Impressed by the power of mathematics and the development of the new science, Descartes was confronted with two questions: How was it that people were coming to attain such deep knowledge of the workings of the universe, and how was it that they had spent so long not doing so?

Regarding the latter question, Descartes concluded that people had been mislead by putting too much faith in the testimony of their senses. In particular, he thought such a mistake was behind the then-dominant physics of Aristotle. Aristotle and the later Scholastics, in Descartes’ mind, had used their reasoning abilities well enough on the basis of what their senses told them. The problem was that they had chosen the wrong starting point for their inquiries.

By contrast, the advancements in the new science (some of which Descartes could claim for himself) were based in a very different starting point: The “pure light of reason.” In Descartes’ view, God had equipped humans with a faculty that was able to understand the fundamental essence of the two types of substance that made up the world: Intellectual substance (of which minds are instances) and physical substance (matter). Not only did God give people such a faculty, Descartes claimed, but he made them such that, when using the faculty, they are unable to question its deliverances. Not only that, but God left humanity the means to conclude that the faculty was a gift from a non-deceptive omnipotent creator.

In some respects, the German philosophy Immanuel Kant is the paradigm of an anti-rationalist philosopher. A major portion of his central work, the 1781 Critique of Pure Reason, is specifically devoted to attacking rationalist claims to have insight through reason alone into the nature of the soul, the spatiotemporal/causal structure of the universe, and the existence of God. Plato and Descartes are among his most obvious targets.

For instance, in his evaluation of rationalist claims concerning the nature of the soul (the chapter of the Critique entitled “The Paralogisms of Pure Reason”), Kant attempts to diagnose how a philosopher like Descartes could have been tempted into thinking that he could accomplish deep insight into his own nature by thought alone. One of Descartes’ conclusions was that his mind, unlike his body, was utterly simple and so lacked parts. Kant claimed that Descartes mistook a simple experience (the thought, “I think”) for an experience of simplicity. In other words, he saw Descartes as introspecting, being unable to find any divisions within himself, and thereby concluding that he lacked any such divisions and so was simple. But the reason he was unable to find divisions, in Kant’s view, was that by mere thought alone we are unable to find anything.

At the same time, however, Kant was an uncompromising advocate of some key rationalist intuitions. Confronted with the Scottish philosopher David Hume’s claim that the concept of “cause” was merely one of the constant conjunction of resembling entities, Kant insisted that all Hume really accomplished was in proving that the concept of causation could not possibly have its origin in human senses. What the senses cannot provide, Kant claimed, is any notion of necessity, yet a crucial part of our concept of causation is that it is the necessary connection of two entities or events. Kant’s conclusion was that this concept, and others like it, must be a precondition of sensory experience itself.

In his moral philosophy (most famously expounded in his Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals), Kant made an even more original claim on behalf of reason. The sensory world, in his view, was merely ideal, in that the spatiotemporal/sensory features of the objects people experience have their being only in humanity’s representations, and so are not features of the objects in themselves. But this means that most everyday concepts are simply inadequate for forming any notion whatsoever of what the world is like apart from our subjective features. By contrast, Kant claimed that there was no parallel reason for thinking that objects in themselves (which include our soul) do not conform to the most basic concepts of our higher faculties. So while those faculties are unable to provide any sort of direct, reliable access to the basic features of reality as envisioned by Plato and Descartes, they and they alone give one the means to at least contemplate what true reality might be like.

In the early part of the twentieth century, a philosophical movement known as Logical Positivism set the ground for a new debate over rationalism. The positivists (whose ranks included Otto Neurath and Rudolf Carnap) claimed that the only meaningful claims were those that could potentially be verified by some set of experiential observations. Their aim was to do away with intellectual traditions that they saw as simply vacuous, including theology and the majority of philosophy, in contrast with science.

As it turned out, the Positivists were unable to explain how all scientific claims were verifiable by experience, thus losing their key motivation (for instance, no set of experiences could verify that all stars are hot, since no set of experiential observations could itself confirm that one had observed all the stars). Nevertheless, their vision retained enough force that later philosophers felt hard-pressed to explain what, if anything, was epistemically distinctive about the non-sensory faculties. One recent defense of rationalism can be found in the work of contemporary philosophers such as Laurence Bonjour (the recent developments of the position are, in general, too subtle to be adequately addressed here). Yet the charge was also met by a number of thinkers working in areas as closely related to psychology as to philosophy.

A number of thinkers have argued for something like Kant’s view that people have concepts independently of experience. Indeed, the groundbreaking work of the linguist Noam Chomsky (which he occasionally tied to Descartes) is largely based on the assumption that there is a “universal grammar”that is, some basic set of linguistic categories and abilities that necessarily underlie all human languages. One task of linguistics, in Chomsky’s view, is to look at a diversity of languages in order to determine what the innate linguistic categories and capacities are.

A similar proposal concerning human beliefs about mentality itself has been advanced by Peter Carruthers. One intuitive view is that each of us comes to attribute mental states to other people only after a long developmental process where people learn to associate observable phenomena with their own mental states, and thereby with others. Yet, Carruthers argues, this view simply cannot account for the speed and complexity of humans’ understanding of others’ psychology at very early ages. The only explanation is that some understanding of mentality is “hard-wired” in the human brain.

All links retrieved June 25, 2015.

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Organizzazione del Trattato dell’Atlantico del Nord …

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Dec 252015
 

Da Wikipedia, l’enciclopedia libera.

Coordinate: 505234.16N 42519.24E / 50.876156N 4.422011E50.876156; 4.422011

L’Organizzazione del Trattato dell’Atlantico del Nord (in inglese North Atlantic Treaty Organization, in sigla NATO,[3] in francese: Organisation du Trait de l’Atlantique du Nord, in sigla OTAN), un’organizzazione internazionale per la collaborazione nella difesa.

Il trattato istitutivo della NATO, il Patto Atlantico, fu firmato a Washington, D.C. il 4 aprile 1949 ed entr in vigore il 24 agosto dello stesso anno. Attualmente, fanno parte della NATO 28 stati del mondo.

Il Patto Atlantico traeva origine dalla percezione che il cosiddetto mondo occidentale (costituito da Stati Uniti d’America, Canada, Regno Unito, Francia, Norvegia, Italia ed altri Paesi dell’Europa occidentale), dopo la seconda guerra mondiale, stesse cominciando ad accusare tensioni nei confronti dell’altro paese vincitore della guerra, ossia l’Unione Sovietica, con i suoi Stati satellite.

Iniziava, infatti, a svilupparsi nelle opinioni pubbliche occidentali il timore che il regime sovietico potesse “non accontentarsi” della spartizione geografica generata, al termine della Guerra, da varie conferenze di pace e che, radicalizzando i contenuti ideologici della societ, volesse iniziare una mira espansionista per l’affermazione globale dell’ideologia comunista. Ci gener un movimento di opinione che – anche grazie alle varie attivit in tal senso organizzate dagli Stati Uniti d’America – inizi a svilupparsi in modo generalizzato nei Paesi occidentali e che identific una nuova assoluta necessit di garantire la sicurezza del mondo occidentale dalla minaccia comunista; la NATO, quindi, rispondeva all’esigenza di allearsi e di mettere a fattor comune i propri dispositivi di difesa, per reagire “come un sol uomo” ad un eventuale attacco.

Tale sentimento ebbe una significativa spinta dopo i fatti di Berlino del 1948. La citt tedesca, simbolo del nazismo e Capitale della Germania hitleriana, dopo Jalta venne a trovarsi nel territorio della Germania Est, ossia sotto influenza sovietica, e venne suddivisa in 4 zone, tre delle quali controllate dai Paesi occidentali e la quarta (la parte orientale della citt) dall’Unione Sovietica. Berlino Est divenne Capitale della Germania Est.

Dopo alcuni mesi durante i quali i sovietici avevano iniziato a manifestare disagio e dissenso sulla situazione territoriale e logistica “anomala” di Berlino (enclave occidentale in territorio orientale), che permetteva alle genti sottoposte al regime socialista di transitare facilmente all’Ovest trovandovi rifugio, il 24 giugno 1948 decisero di chiudere il corridoio terrestre attraverso il quale Berlino Ovest era connessa al mondo occidentale, impedendo, di fatto, il suo approvvigionamento logistico: il successivo ponte aereo, organizzato dal mondo occidentale per assicurare la sopravvivenza della popolazione di Berlino Ovest, entrato nella storia.

La vicenda dell'”assedio” a Berlino Ovest, fece naturalmente forte impressione alle popolazioni occidentali e, di fatto, rese matura la decisione di istituire un’Alleanza del mondo occidentale contro la minaccia sovietica.

Il concetto informatore di questa nuova “Alleanza” era quello della “difesa collettiva”, riportato nell’Art. 5, che recita:

Questa misura era concepita in modo tale che se l’Unione Sovietica avesse lanciato un attacco contro uno qualsiasi dei paesi membri, questo sarebbe stato trattato da ciascun paese membro come un attacco diretto, ed era rivolta soprattutto a una temuta invasione sovietica dell’Europa occidentale. Le trattative si svolsero tra i firmatari del trattato di Bruxelles (Regno Unito, Francia e Benelux), Stati Uniti, Canada, Norvegia, Danimarca, Islanda, Portogallo ed Italia. L’Unione Sovietica protest vivacemente, affermando la natura aggressiva nei suoi confronti del Patto. Da l a pochi anni essa avrebbe dato vita ad un’Alleanza militare contrapposta alla NATO: il Patto di Varsavia.

La creazione degli organi politici dell’Alleanza Atlantica impieg circa un anno di lavori, tra il maggio 1950 e lo stesso mese del 1951; nelle riunioni a Londra ed a Bruxelles i ministri degli Esteri si accordarono per la creazione di un Consiglio Permanente, dotato di potere esecutivo, affiancato da tre comitati, di difesa economica e finanziaria, di difesa e militare, inglobati poi nel Consiglio Permanente nella conferenza di Londra del maggio 1951.

Con la nascita del Patto di Varsavia inizi la “Guerra fredda”, cos definita in quanto, in realt, mai combattuta sul campo, ma per la quale i due blocchi prepararono i loro dispositivi militari in modo cos meticoloso e credibile che fu sviluppato il concetto di “pace armata” (attuato anche con armi nucleari potenzialmente distruttive per l’umanit intera). Dopo la caduta del muro di Berlino, che simboleggi la fine del socialismo reale e soprattutto dell’URSS, la NATO ha radicalmente cambiato la sua visione strategica, avviando un processo di radicale trasformazione. Dopo i fatti dell’11 settembre 2001 avvenuto un nuovo cambiamento nelle strategie dell’Alleanza, che adesso, a processo di trasformazione ormai compiuta, si configura come l’organizzazione mondiale principale per la lotta effettiva al terrorismo internazionale.

Il disposto dell’art. 5 del Trattato, mai attuato durante la Guerra fredda, venne invocato per la prima volta nella storia il 12 settembre 2001 dagli Stati Uniti, in risposta all’attacco terroristico del giorno precedente a New York.

Motivo: Questa sezione esprime, in alcuni passaggi, alcuni giudizi.

Dalla caduta del muro di Berlino in poi, la NATO ha progressivamente perso la propria caratteristica di “Alleanza Difensiva” per orientarsi sempre pi come un ambito di collaborazione militare tra Paesi aderenti. Dopo gli eventi dell’11 settembre 2001, gli Stati Uniti hanno richiesto l’intervento dell’Alleanza sulla base dell’Art. 5 del trattato. In linea generale, la NATO oggi rappresenta l’organizzazione militare pi utilizzata per l’imposizione del pieno rispetto della Carta dell’ONU e delle norme e convenzioni di Diritto umanitario e di Diritto bellico, delle risoluzioni del Consiglio di sicurezza dell’ONU relative a situazioni di crisi di importanza globale.

I principi generali che regolano le attivit dell’Alleanza sono mutati nel tempo, adattandosi ai continui cambiamenti del panorama geopolitico internazionale, ed attualmente possono essere riassunti nei seguenti punti:

L’art. 10 del Trattato del Nord Atlantico descrive come gli stati possano entrare nella NATO:[6]

Questo articolo pone due limiti generali agli stati per l’accesso:

Il secondo criterio significa che ciascun stato membro ha diritto di veto, ovvero pu decidere di porre delle condizioni per l’ingresso di un paese. In pratica la NATO ha formulato un insieme di criteri-base che devono essere soddisfatti per aspirare all’accesso, ma in alcuni casi ci possono essere dei criteri aggiuntivi. I casi pi importanti sono:

Non invece mai stato un criterio riconosciuto quello secondo cui la NATO non si sarebbe estesa ad Est se l’URSS avesse consentito la riunificazione della Germania: questa rivendicazione russa[7] del contenuto di un colloquio tra Gorbacev e James Baker, infatti, non mai stata accettata dalla diplomazia USA[8], che anzi negli anni Novanta sfid l’irritazione russa propiziando l’ingresso della Polonia, dell’Ungheria e della Repubblica Ceca nell’Alleanza.

Come procedura per i paesi che vogliono aderire (pre-adesione) esiste un meccanismo chiamato Piano d’azione per l’adesione o Membership Action Plan (MAP) che fu introdotto nel vertice di Washington del 23-25 aprile 1999. La partecipazione al MAP prevede per un paese la presentazione di un rapporto annuale sui progressi fatti nel raggiungere i criteri stabiliti: la NATO provvede poi a rispondere a ciascun paese con suggerimenti tecnici e valuta singolarmente la situazione dei progressi.

Questi paesi sono all’interno del MAP:

previsto che entrino nel MAP i seguenti paesi:

L’altro meccanismo di pre-adesione il Dialogo intensificato o Intensified Dialogue che visto come passo precedente prima di essere invitati al MAP.

I paesi attualmente in questa fase sono:

Un doppio schema tecnico-diplomatico di accordi stato creato per aiutare la cooperazione tra i membri NATO e altri “paesi partner”.

Il Partenariato Euro-Atlantico, o Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC), fu creato il 27 maggio 1997 al vertice di Parigi ed un forum di regolare consultazione, coordinamento e dialogo tra la NATO e i partner esterni. la diretta conseguenza del partenariato per la pace. I 23 paesi partner sono:

Ex Repubbliche sovietiche:

Paesi neutrali con economia di mercato durante la guerra fredda:

Paesi neutrali con economia socialista durante la guerra fredda:

Paesi “in attesa”:

Il Partenariato per la pace o Partnership for Peace (PfP) fu creato nel 1994 ed basato su relazioni individuali e bilaterali tra la NATO e il paese partner: ciascuno stato pu decidere l’intensit della collaborazione. stato il primo tentativo di dialogo della NATO con paesi esterni, ma ora considerato il “braccio operativo” del partenariato Euro-Atlantico. costituito in maniera principale, da membri operativi della NATO, ad esempio, membri START1991, e collaborano in tema di giustizia, per garantire i principali diritti internazionali, come i patti Bilaterali tra stati nel mondo, svolgono in tema politico-sociale la cooperazione al sostentamento umanitario. La sua azione operativa permette in diversi ambiti, quali sociale, politico, economico, giuridico, medico, ingegneristico, scientifico, artistico, la tutela e la conservazione di diritti umani nel mondo, promuovendo la cultura pacifica nei popoli.

Come gi detto, la NATO rappresenta non soltanto una mera iniziativa di cooperazione militare, ma si configura come fondamentale strumento di collaborazione politica tra i Paesi membri, soprattutto nell’ambito dei processi decisionali afferenti materie di politica estera.

Per questo motivo, la NATO ha una duplice struttura: politica e militare. In linea con quanto accade normalmente nell’ambito dei Sistemi istituzionali democratici dei Paesi membri, anche in questo caso la parte militare ha una posizione subordinata rispetto a quella politica, che, nelle sue diverse articolazioni, espressione diretta della volont dei popoli dei Paesi membri.

L’Alleanza governata dai suoi 28 Stati membri, ognuno dei quali ha una delegazione presso la sede centrale della NATO a Bruxelles. Il pi anziano membro di ciascuna delegazione chiamato “Rappresentante permanente”. L’organizzazione politica della NATO basata sulla regola del consenso unanime e comprende:

L’organizzazione militare della NATO articolata in vari comandi con sedi nei diversi paesi membri. Al vertice costituita da:

formato dai rappresentati militari dei Paesi membri ed ha il compito di decidere le linee strategiche di politica militare della NATO. Provvede inoltre alla guida dei comandanti strategici, i cui rappresentanti partecipano alle sedute del Comitato, ed responsabile per la conduzione degli affari militari dell’Alleanza. Il rappresentante militare l’altra figura rilevante della delegazione permanente dei Paesi membri presso la NATO ed un ufficiale con il grado di generale di corpo d’armata o corrispondente che proviene dalle forze armate di ciascun paese membro.

Dal Military Committee dipendono:

I membri della NATO sono attualmente 28. Di questi, 22 sono anche membri dell’Unione europea, mentre 24 di questi sono membri a vario titolo (membri effettivi, membri associati, paesi osservatori, partner associati) dell’Unione dell’Europa Occidentale (UEO) che con il Trattato di Lisbona passata sotto il controllo UE. Per questo negli ultimi anni il peso dell’UE andato sempre pi in crescendo nelle decisioni NATO. Di seguito l’elenco dei 28 membri:

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Essay: John Rawls and Robert Nozick: liberalism vs …

 Misc  Comments Off on Essay: John Rawls and Robert Nozick: liberalism vs …
Aug 152015
 

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These days , in the occasional university philosophy classroom, the differences between Robert Nozicks Anarchy, State, and Utopia (libertarianism) and John Rawls A Theory of Justice (social liberalism) are still discussed vigorously. In order to demonstrate a broad spectrum of possible political philosophies it is necessary to define the outer boundaries, these two treatises stand like sentries at opposite gatesof the polis

John Rawls, A Theory of Justice. Rawls presents an account of justice in the form of two principles: (1) liberty principle= peoples equal basic liberties such as freedom of speech, freedom of conscience (religion), and the right to vote should be maximized, and (2) difference principle= inequalities in social and economic goods are acceptable only if they promote the welfare of the least advantaged members of society. Rawls writes in the social contract tradition. He seeks to define equilibrium points that, when accumulated, form a civil system characterized by what he calls justice as fairness. To get there he deploys an argument whereby people in an original position (state of nature), make decisions (legislate laws) behind a veil of ignorance (of their place in the society rich or poor) using a reasoning technique he calls reflective equilibrium. It goes something like: behind the veil of ignorance, with no knowledge of their own places in civil society, Rawls posits that reasonable people will default to social and economic positions that maximize the prospects for the worst off feed and house the poor in case you happen to become one. Its much like the prisoners dilemma in game theory. By his own words Rawls = left-liberalism.

Robert Nozick, Anarchy, State, and Utopia, libertarian response to Rawls which argues that only a minimal state devoted to the enforcement of contracts and protecting people against crimes like assault, robbery, fraud can be morally justified. Nozick suggests that the fundamental question of political philosophy is not how government should be organized but whether there should be any state at all, he is close to John Locke in that government is legitimate only to the degree that it promotes greater security for life, liberty, and property than would exist in a chaotic, pre-political state of nature. Nozick concludes, however, that the need for security justifies only a minimal, or night-watchman, state, since it cannot be demonstrated that citizens will attain any more security through extensive governmental intervention. (Nozick p.25-27)

the state may not use its coercive apparatus for the purpose of getting some citizens to aid others, or in order to prohibit activities to people for their own good or protection. (Nozick Preface p.ix)

Differences:

Similarities:

Some Practical Questions for Rawls:

Some Practical Questions for Nozick:

Read The Liberal Imagination of Frederick Douglass for an excellent discussion on the state of liberalism in America today.

Citations:

Anarchy, State, and Utopia. Robert Nozick. Basic Books. 1974

A Theory of Justice. John Rawls. Harvard University Press. 1971

Disclaimer: This is a forum for me to capture in digital type my understanding of various philosophies and philosophers. I cannot vouch for the accuracy of the interpretations.

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Wikipedia vs NSA – PREVENTING THE TRUTH – Video

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Mar 132015
 



Wikipedia vs NSA – PREVENTING THE TRUTH
For a very long time now I have posted videos telling you about Wikipedia. They are now suing NSA for violations of the first and fourth amedments. We now officially know that the NSA and other…

By: sonofmabarker

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Wikipedia vs NSA – PREVENTING THE TRUTH – Video

 Posted by at 2:51 pm  Tagged with:

NSA sued over surveillance by Wikimedia & more

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Mar 132015
 

Chris Davies

The NSA may be used to lurking in the shadows and quietly reading our emails, but the ACLU and Wikimedia Foundation aren’t willing to let them stay that way, filing a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the government agency’s actions. The suit, filed today in the US District Court for the District of Maryland, takes issue with NSA “upstream” surveillance which, it’s argued, needlessly and intrusively gathers huge quantities of text-based messages sent and received by innocent people. That, the ACLU insists, is an infringement of both First and Fourth Amendment rights, among other things.

The core of the controversy is the National Security Agency’s use of the 2008 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Amendments Act (FAA) to justify its activities. That Act, the agency argues, gives it the legal permission to tap into the “backbone” of the internet in the name of gathering communications with “non-U.S. persons.”

By collaborating with infrastructure operators like AT&T and Verizon, to get a direct tap into the bulk messaging feed, the NSA can run thousands of keyword searches to hunt for anything vaguely suspicious.

However, the ACLU points out, no court approves each search, or each target, and “the limitations that do exist are weak and riddled with exceptions.” There are also suspicions that the NSA is keeping and indexing communications far longer than they’re meant to.

Along with the ACLU and the Wikimedia Foundation, the lawsuit includes The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International USA, PEN American Center, Global Fund for Women, The Nation Magazine, The Rutherford Institute, and The Washington Office on Latin America.

“These plaintiffs sensitive communications have been copied, searched, and likely retained by the NSA,” the ACLU said in a statement on the lawsuit. “Upstream surveillance hinders the plaintiffs ability to ensure the basic confidentiality of their communications with crucial contacts abroad among them journalists, colleagues, clients, victims of human rights abuses, and the tens of millions of people who read and edit Wikipedia pages.”

It’s not the first time the ACLU has attempted to tackle how broadly the NSA interprets the FAA. In fact, the group filed a suit back in 2008 shortly after it was made law, only to be rejected by the Supreme Court in 2013 for not having sufficient proof that spying had, in fact, taken place.

Since then, of course, whistleblower Edward Snowden has revealed huge quantities of information on the upstream surveillance being undertaken by his former employers.

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NSA sued over surveillance by Wikimedia & more

Why Wikimedia Is Suing To Shield Users From NSA Surveillance – Video

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Mar 122015
 



Why Wikimedia Is Suing To Shield Users From NSA Surveillance
Volunteers produce most Wikipedia entries, and the lawsuit alleges the NSA's potential surveillance will deter those contributors. Follow Jamal Andress: http://www.twitter.com/jamalandress…

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Why Wikimedia Is Suing To Shield Users From NSA Surveillance – Video

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NSA sued by Wikipedia parent group over mass surveillance

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Mar 122015
 

Wikipedia’s parent group, Wikimedia Foundation, is suing the US National Security Agency (NSA) for what it dubs the “suspicionless seizure and searching of internet traffic by the agency on US soil”.

The legal action has been filed by Wikimedia and eight other groups against the NSA and the Department of Justice (DoJ), in a federal court in Maryland, where the spy agency is based.

Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, said that Wikimedia is filing the suit on behalf of Wikipedia’s readers and editors everywhere.

“Surveillance erodes the original promise of the internet: an open space for collaboration and experimentation, and a place free from fear,” he said.

In its official complaint, Wikimedia said that the NSA conducts its “upstream” surveillance by tapping directly into the internet backbone inside the US.

It described this backbone as “the network of high-capacity cables, switches, and routers that today carry vast numbers of Americans’ communications with each other and with the rest of the world”.

By intercepting traffic, the NSA is seizing Americans’ communications en masse while they are in transit, said Wikimedia, and this surveillance “exceeds the scope of the authority that congress provided in the FISA Amendments Act (FAA) of 2008 and violates the First and Fourth Amendments”.

In a blog post, the foundation’s legal counsel said that the FAA authorises the collection of these communications if they fall into the broad category of “foreign intelligence information”, which includes any data that could be construed as relating to national security or foreign affairs.

“The programme casts a vast net, and as a result, captures communications that are not connected to any target’, or may be entirely domestic. This includes communications by our users and staff,” the organisation added.

Lila Tretikov, executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation, said that “by tapping the backbone of the internet, the NSA is straining the backbone of democracy”.

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NSA sued by Wikipedia parent group over mass surveillance

Wikipedia is suing the NSA over online spying

 NSA  Comments Off on Wikipedia is suing the NSA over online spying
Mar 112015
 

The nonprofit behind Wikipedia, the Wikimedia Foundation, is suing the National Security Agency and the Department of Justice over a government surveillance program. The suit challenges a program that collects databy tapping into the infrastructure, or backbone, the Web is built on.

“We are asking the court to order an end to the NSA’s dragnet surveillance of Internet traffic,” Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales wrote in a New York Times opinion piece about the suit.

The Justice Department spokesperson said the agency isreviewing the complaint. TheNSA did not immediately respond a request for comment about the suit.

The suit allegesthat the government has been tappinginto cables that are part of the Internet’s infrastructure, a practice often called “Upstream” collection, which violates the First and Fourth Amendments, according to a blog post from Wikimedia.

Such programs have been targeted in other lawsuits,including the long-running Jewel v. NSA case, which was originallybased on documents from aAT&T technician in San Francisco.Some cases about government surveillance have either been thrown out or stalled after failing to prove they were specifically targetedby thegovernment surveillance programs.

But that may be less of an issue for Wikimedia, which has based its case largely on informationdisclosed byNSA contractor Edward Snowden. Some Snowden documentsappearedto showthat the government is tapping into cables that connect the United States to the rest of the online world. One government slide disclosed by Snowdensuggested that Wikipedia and its userswere targeted as part of government surveillance programs, the lawsuit alleges.

However, there may be other legal hurdles. Last month, Jewel v. NSA hit a significant roadblock when a federal judge sided with the government’s state secret defense — ruling that the plaintiffscould not win their challenge over NSA tapping of the Internet backbone without disclosing information that would harm national security.

The type and amount of data collected as part of these programs are unclear. But the data could reveal details about people’s browsing history, scaring somefrom using the Internet freely, privacy advocates have argued.

By tapping the backbone of the internet, the NSA is straining the backbone of democracy, Wikimedia Foundation executive director Lila Tretikov said in a blog post about the suit. Wikipedia is founded on the freedoms of expression, inquiry, and information. By violating our users privacy, the NSA is threatening the intellectual freedom that is central to peoples ability to create and understand knowledge.

The American Civil Liberties Union is representing plaintiffs inWikimedia v. NSA, a group that includesHuman Rights Watch, Amnesty International USA, Global Fund for Women, and The Nation Magazine among others.

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Wikipedia is suing the NSA over online spying

Wikipedia Just Joined the List of Pissed-Off Organizations Suing the NSA

 Fourth Amendment  Comments Off on Wikipedia Just Joined the List of Pissed-Off Organizations Suing the NSA
Mar 112015
 

Wikipedia’s parent organization just joined the fight against dragnet government surveillance.

The ACLU filed a lawsuit today against the National Security Administration for its spying tactics. The lawsuit challenges the NSA’s surveillance program as a violation of Fourth Amendment privacy rights, an infringement on First Amendment rights, and an overstepping of the authority given to the NSA under Congress’ FISA Amendments Act.

“The reason we’re filing this lawsuit is that we feel we’ve been harmed directly by the NSA,” Wikimedia General Counsel Geoff Brigham told me, noting that the NSA explicitly targeted Wikipedia in a top secret document revealed by Edward Snowden. Plaintiffs stretch across political boundaries and include both conservative and liberal organizations.

This is far from the only recent lawsuit against the NSA. In February, a judge announced that he can’t rule in Jewel vs. NSA, a lawsuit filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation against the NSA’s spying tactics. The EFF has also filed a suit regarding government spying in July 2013 (First Unitarian vs. NSA) and helped the ACLU on the legal team for Smith vs. Obama, which also argued that bulk government data collection violates a citizen’s Fourth Amendment rights.

So far, none of these cases have worked out. Smith v. Obama was dismissed. And the ACLU cited Clapper vs. Amnesty as a precedent to this case. While that lawsuit wound up dismissed by the Supreme Court after it determined that plaintiffs couldn’t prove they were getting spied on, there’s still a lot of optimism this time around.

“I expect the district court will rule in our favor and that the NSA will accept that ruling,” Bingham told me.

First Unitarian is still pending, and also boasts a long and weird list of organizations united together primarily by their reluctance to be okay with sweeping government surveillance. Just to give you a glimpse at the scope of furious groups, here’s a list of all the companies and organizations currently participating in pending suits related to the NSA’s surveillance program:

I have a feeling this list will just keep growing if the pending cases aren’t heard soon. So far, Obama’s weak stabs at NSA reform haven’t exactly soothed reasonable concerns that government surveillance is an uncontrolled privacy piss-storm.

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Wikipedia Just Joined the List of Pissed-Off Organizations Suing the NSA

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Bitcoin – Wikipedia

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Feb 142015
 

Da Wikipedia, l’enciclopedia libera.

Bitcoin (simbolo: ; codice: BTC o XBT) una moneta elettronica creata nel 2009 da un anonimo conosciuto con lo pseudonimo di Satoshi Nakamoto, implementando un’idea dello stesso autore presentata su Internet a fine 2008. Convenzionalmente, il termine Bitcoin maiuscolo si riferisce alla tecnologia ed alla rete mentre il minuscolo bitcoin si riferisce alla valuta in s.[2]

A differenza della maggior parte delle valute tradizionali, Bitcoin non fa uso di un ente centrale: esso utilizza un database distribuito tra i nodi della rete che tengono traccia delle transazioni, e sfrutta la crittografia per gestire gli aspetti funzionali come la generazione di nuova moneta e l’attribuzione di propriet dei bitcoin.

La rete Bitcoin consente il possesso ed il trasferimento anonimo delle monete; i dati necessari ad utilizzare i propri bitcoin possono essere salvati su uno o pi personal computer sotto forma di “portafoglio” digitale, o mantenuti presso terze parti che svolgono funzioni simili ad una banca. In ogni caso, i bitcoin possono essere trasferiti attraverso Internet verso chiunque disponga di un “indirizzo bitcoin”. La struttura peer-to-peer della rete Bitcoin e la mancanza di un ente centrale rende impossibile per qualunque autorit, governativa o meno, di bloccare la rete, sequestrare bitcoin ai legittimi possessori o di svalutarla creando nuova moneta.

Bitcoin una delle prime implementazioni di un concetto definito criptovaluta qui, descritto per la prima volta nel 1998 da Wei Dai su una mailing list[3].

Il controvalore totale dell’economia Bitcoin, calcolato a dicembre 2012 era di circa 140 milioni di dollari statunitensi[4], in aprile 2013 1,4 miliardi di dollari statunitensi[5], nel novembre 2013, con un cambio 1 bitcoin = 540 USD, il controvalore sale ancora a pi di 6 miliardi di dollari statunitensi[6].

L’economia basata sui bitcoin ancora molto piccola, se paragonata ad economie stabilite da lungo tempo, ed il software ancora in uno stato di beta release, tuttavia sono gi commercializzati in bitcoin merci e servizi reali quali, ad esempio, automobili usate o contratti di sviluppo software. I bitcoin vengono accettati sia per servizi online sia per beni tangibili[7].

Sono moltissimi ormai gli enti, le organizzazioni e le associazioni che accettano donazioni in bitcoin; tra i tanti si possono citare la Electronic Frontier Foundation[8], The Pirate Bay[9], Free Software Foundation[10] e anche Wikimedia Foundation[11].

possibile inoltre acquistare da altri grandi siti come Amazon o eBay attraverso alcuni intermediari. Dal novembre 2013 l’Universit di Nicosia, a Cipro, accetta il bitcoin come mezzo di pagamento della tasse universitarie.[12]. Alcuni commercianti, utilizzando appositi siti di cambio, permettono di cambiare bitcoin in diverse valute, ivi compresi dollari statunitensi, euro, rubli russi e yen giapponesi[13].

Chiunque pu controllare la catena dei blocchi (detta Blockchain) ed osservare le transazioni in tempo reale. Diversi servizi sono gi disponibili per facilitare queste operazioni.[14][15]

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Bitcoin – Wikipedia

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Sedona ~ Raven’s Cosmic Portal

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Feb 112015
 

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Cosmic Tours Sacred Vortex ~ Film Orbs~ Spiritual Breakthroughs!Breath work ~ Intuitive Life Coach ~ PRIVATE Day & Night Tours ~ Feel the energy of the land as you collect the gifts of the Vortexes ~ DNA Activation. Merkabah ~ Wildlife ~ Ravens Haven!

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Sedona ~ Raven’s Cosmic Portal

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Satire and Sanity: Where Do You Draw the Line? (News Analysis)

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Jan 152015
 

“We have the right to make dumb jokes.”

— Tina Fey

I’m a free speech advocate. I’ve been arrested and I have served jail time for exercising my First Amendment rights. As a reporter, magazine editor and political cartoonist, I’ve received complaints (and a few rare death threats) for my work. So it goes without saying that I share the global outrage over the brutal murders of the cartoonists and staff at the French magazine Charlie Hebdo. It chills the blood to imagine any American cartoonist being placed in the crosshairs of a Kalashnikov. No matter your race, religion, history or lifestyle, murder is a heinous crimefar worse than even the most wounding insult.

But after dwelling on the causes and effects of this tragedy, I find that I have some qualms about the argument that there should be no limits to the exercise of free speech.

My concerns begin with a question: “At what point does satire become bullying?” At what point does satire morph from a deftly wielded surgical tool into a blunt instrument of personal or cultural assault? As we have seen, a pen can draw a cartoon but a weaponized cartoon can draw blood. Does the cause of “free speech” bind us to defend slanders, lies and defamation?

Many advocates of free speech make a point of defending uncensored and fearless public expressionbut only so long as the speech does not veer into venomous and hateful rhetoric. When “free speech” devolves into racist or misogynistic invective, it can prove as devastating to public peace as yelling “Fire!” in the legendary “crowded auditorium.” Such mean-spirited expressions are classified as “hate speech” and are characterized by content that “offends, threatens, or insults groups, based on race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, disability, or other traits.”

Unclothed Emperors Versus the Naked Masses

Satire, as a form of mockery, reads entirely differently depending on where and how it is directed. Ridicule directed against the powerfulwhether the target be a wealthy member of the elite or a multinational corporationis most easily recognized as the proper use of the satiric tool. However, ridicule directed against the powerless, the disenfranchised, or the disabled can be seen as inappropriate and coldhearted bullying.

Even hate speech can be nuanced by the interplay of social realities. It’s one thing for the oppressed to call for the elimination of the ruling classes; it’s another matter for the rulers to call for the elimination of masses. Regicide and genocide are both crimes but there is a vast difference in scale.

Satire, as defined by Wikipedia, is “a genre of literature, and sometimes graphic and performing arts, in which vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, ideally with the intent of shaming individuals, corporations, government or society itself, into improvement.”

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Satire and Sanity: Where Do You Draw the Line? (News Analysis)

 Posted by at 3:41 am  Tagged with:

FTP Episode 003 | Cryptocurrency Talk, Casheer and Wikipedia – Video

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Jan 042015
 



FTP Episode 003 | Cryptocurrency Talk, Casheer and Wikipedia
Join us for Episode 3 of the Fun Time Podcast with Ross Marius. SUBSCRIBE NOW :) In this episode we discuss crypto currencies, the crypto payment system Ca…

By: Fun Time Podcast

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FTP Episode 003 | Cryptocurrency Talk, Casheer and Wikipedia – Video

 Posted by at 4:52 am  Tagged with:

Bitcoin Zebra – Faucet

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Dec 212014
 

2014-12-20 Weekly payment run completed – over 276 million satoshi (2.76 BTC) paid out! Full details here

SPECIAL PROMOTION: Receive a huge 50% bonus on all your earnings by switching to immediate Xapo wallet payments!!! Click here for full details

You have a chance of winning each of the following amounts (average is currently 344 satoshi)…

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Bitcoin Zebra is a completely FREE bitcoin faucet paying out up to 1000 satoshi every hour. Each time you visit this page and feed the zebra you will receive a faucet payout amount randomly selected from the available amounts shown in green above.

As well as the faucet we also have some information about other ways you can earn bitcoins. Head on over to the earn more page for details of other free bitcoin faucets, bitcoin gambling and casino sites and bitcoin mining opportunities. And we also run a very generous referral program which pays commission of at least 50% on EVERY faucet payout made to new accounts that you send over to us!

If you need any more information then please scroll down to see a list of Frequently Asked Questions.

Bitcoin is a peer-to-peer payment system introduced as open source software in 2009. The digital currency created and used in the system is alternatively referred to as a virtual currency, electronic money, or a cryptocurrency because cryptography is used to control its creation and transfer. Conventionally, the capitalized word “Bitcoin” refers to the technology and network, whereas lowercase “bitcoin” refers to the digital currency. Read more about Bitcoin on Wikipedia

Bitcoin Zebra is a bitcoin faucet. A bitcoin faucet is a web site that dispenses small amounts of bitcoins (or satoshi) for simply entering your bitcoin wallet address and solving a captcha (to prove that you are human). This faucet like most others is funded by donations and advertisements (so please turn off your ad-blocking software!). Donations: 1DXhNVViVYu4xPGUu4pYH2cTr72UPMqKAt

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Bitcoin Zebra – Faucet

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Bitcoin Exchange Rate Predicts 1 BITCOIN = $700,000 BitCoin Video – Video

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Dec 132014
 



Bitcoin Exchange Rate Predicts 1 BITCOIN = $700,000 BitCoin Video
WHAT… An experts opinion of where we are headed. The likes of Gold hitting $5K an oz. in the near Future… Silver $500 WHAT IF… Take a closer look http://metcomenterprises.com Wikipedia…

By: MetComTowers

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Bitcoin Exchange Rate Predicts 1 BITCOIN = $700,000 BitCoin Video – Video

 Posted by at 6:47 am  Tagged with:



Pierre Teilhard De Chardin | Designer Children | Prometheism | Euvolution | Transhumanism