9:40-10:00     John Traphagan    SETI, Cultural Evolution, and the Star Trek Imaginary

Presentation

Live Discussion

Chat log

09:43:57 From Linda Billings to Everyone : Progress is a deeply Christian concept.

 

09:45:16 From Linda Billings to Everyone : And has humanity write large made any moral progress over the past 500-1000 years. Murder is still socially acceptable in many cultures.

 

09:45:35 From Lucas Mix to Everyone : @ Linda, I think it's a feature of "Western Elective Monotheisms" including Judaism and Islam, potentially Zoroastrianism and Aten worship. 

09:45:35 From Ted Peters to Everyone : Lina, are you suggesting that technological progress is a secularization of sanctification? 09:46:23 From Lucas Mix to Everyone : To my understanding "murder" is by definition killing that is not socially acceptable.

 

09:46:23 From Nick Nielsen to Everyone : I think technological progress, which can be quantified, needs to be distinguished from moral progress.

 

09:47:03 From Nick Nielsen to Everyone : Given the proper conventions, moral progress can be quantified, but agreeing on the conventions is difficult.

 

09:47:12 From Carlos Mariscal to Everyone : “progress” just means that we all accept a progression and we move through it. Maybe technology makes progress (with certain well known counterexamples), but given the diversity of morality, I’m not sure there’s much consensus that we make progress.

 

09:47:12 From Neil Manson to Everyone : I share your worry, Linda. But, there are some who think the historical, empirical evidence shows violence and political killing is declining over time. I'm thinking of Steven Pinker's book, but there are others.

 

09:47:14 From Neil Manson to Everyone : https://stevenpinker.com/

publications/better-angels-our-nature

 

09:47:15 From Andrew Kennedy to Everyone : tech progress just gives elites opportunities to improve their position, and satisfies intellectual interests secondarily

 

09:47:28 From Eric Hughes to Everyone : Star Trek is actually Los Angeles. Everyone's hair is perfect and the air conditioning is always on.

 

09:49:19 From Kelly Smith to Everyone : And some are green with antenna?

 

09:49:36 From Nick Nielsen to Everyone : Blue with antennae.

 

09:49:53 From Kelly Smith to Everyone : :)

 

09:50:19 From Carlos Mariscal to Everyone : Is there consensus on what the major transitions are in biology? Szathmary’s 2.0 from a few years ago was a bit of a mess.

 

09:50:24 From Ted Peters to Everyone : economic stratification comes with civilization

 

09:50:49 From Kelly Smith to Everyone : Yeah, not so much Carlos, except for the really big ones (multicellularity, for example)

 

09:51:10 From Nick Nielsen to Everyone : and that economic stratification comes with a greater number of choices and social roles.

 

09:52:00 From Kelly Smith to Everyone : Multicellular organisms are not better than microbes, but they do have (in some senses) a larger evolutionary potential by virtue of the fact that there are some things you can only do when you are big and have specialized parts.. 

 

09:52:14 From Carlos Mariscal to Everyone : @Kelly – Right. I think progress in ‘nestedness’ can be well accepted, but then there’s only like four. McShea & Simpson have a cool paper on this.

 

09:52:28 From Ted Peters to Everyone : Triumphant civilizations such as Egypt, Greece, and Rome successfully employed slavery to get the work done. Industrialization helped to eliminate slavery and made realizable human equality.

 

09:52:52 From Kelly Smith to Everyone : @Carlos. Fair enough - we can debate which there are, but probably not whether there are any or whether they matter a lot

 

09:53:25 From Carlos Mariscal to Everyone : @Kelly – agreed. And unlike a lot of other disagreements, I think this one could be quite fruitful

 

09:54:23 From Kelly Smith to Everyone : @ Carlos - those are the best kinds!

 

09:54:44 From Nathalie Gontier to Everyone : yeah Dan wrote a paper on that for a special issue i did a while back too, https:// link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11692-015-9323-x

 

09:54:47 From Lucas Mix to Everyone : Social group size may be a genuinely progressive trait - if you value complexity. There are things that small organisms can do (such as biochemical adaptability) that large organisms cannot.

 

09:55:37 From Kelly Smith to Everyone : @ Nathalie - spiffy!  thnx

 

09:56:07 From Carlos Mariscal to Everyone : Yeah, this is cool. I love his complexity drain idea

 

09:56:13 From Kelly Smith to Everyone : Who could not value complexity?  It’s all that matters, really…:) 

 

09:56:50 From Lucas Mix to Everyone : @ Kelly, Plato, Plotinus, Augustine, Ibn Rushd...

 

09:56:51 From Kelly Smith to Everyone : @ Lucas - true enough, but microbes almost certainly can’t do science

 

09:57:40 From Chelsea Haramia to Everyone : Humanity has, as a species, moved increasingly further away from endorsing the practice of slavery, and we continue on that trajectory. I find it very counterintuitive to say that this is not moral progress. This doesn't mean that every claim of moral progress is correct, but even one instance of our species making an intuitively clear move in the right direction gives us good reason to think that moral progress in fact real in at least some cases. At least, the burden of proof then seems to lie on the person who wants to claim that, in fact, more and more comprehensive rejection of slavery is not actually a good thing, or is not progress.

 

09:57:57 From Neil Manson to Everyone : I agree strongly with Chelsea! 

 

09:58:16 From Kelly Smith to Everyone : Go Chelsea!

 

09:58:26 From Robert.Kennedy to Everyone : re: "progress" and violence/killing see http://fallen.io

 

09:59:24 From Kelly Smith to Everyone : Not all things people identify as progress really are = true.  There is nothing that can be justified as legitimate progress = false

 

10:00:03 From Andrew Kennedy to Everyone : progress let’s say in social trends can and will occur as long as they don’t challenge the capital accumulations. as long as we can turn populations into consumers then that change will happen 10:00:43 From Eric Hughes to Everyone : Reduction of slavery is progress for a certain kind of morality, the dominant morality today. There are still people around who believe in asymmetry between people and wish there were more oft i.

 

10:00:55 From Ted Peters to Everyone : Obama et al...innovation is thought to lead to growth, and growth leads to an expanding economy, and an expanding economy collects the taxes to pay the national debt. Does this actually work?

 

10:00:56 From Neil Manson to Everyone : Meta-point here. We should catalogue all of these deep philosophical splits that are emerging in these discussions. Moral realism vs. moral anti-realism/relativism is certainly one. Another one that I see is between scientific realism (where you'd expect humans and aliens to converge on the same underlying scientific theories) and scientific anti-realism (e.g. instrumentalism, where scientific theories are just tools). 

 

10:00:58 From Dan Capper to Everyone : On the idea of progress as Western: Hans Blumenberg, _The Legitimacy of the Modern Age_.

 

10:00:58 From Eric Hughes to Everyone : ... more of it.

 

10:00:59 From kdenning@yorku.ca to Everyone : I'm not sure we can generalize about humans as a species in this context. Some cultures still endorse slavery, and others practice it while officially disavowing it. I think that conflating all this into a single trend is losing an important signal.

 

10:01:00 From Nick Nielsen to Everyone : The classic work on progress being a secularization of a Christian concept is Karl Lowith's Meaning in History.

 

10:01:02 From Lucas Mix to Everyone : @ Chelsea, I agree with that, but I'm pretty skeptical about our ability to project what future progress will look like. I also think there are areas where we disagree at a fundamental level. I am a moral realist, but I have observed that moral reasoning is much more complicated than most people think.

 

10:01:07 From William Alba to Everyone : I'm probably not going to be able to ask my question of John because I'm heading into my own breakout room ...  given that Star Trek has been an incredibly influential narrative on how METI is practiced: what should/could we do about this? What is our "action item" as a SSoCIA community? 

 

10:01:17 From Dr Sheri Wells-Jensen to Everyone : The progress as a musician I'd say, is the choosing of the music.

 

10:01:47 From Neil Manson to Everyone : And then we could look at the tensions between these. It seems to me some people in this group are (a) scientific realists and (b) moral anti-realists. How does that all hang together? More big questions!

 

10:02:09 From Kelly Smith to Everyone : Identifying something as progress does not necessarily mean it is the only kind of progress that could be had.  Maybe there are multiple (but not infinite) pathways

 

10:04:33 From Chelsea Haramia to Everyone : @eric: the current widespread belief that the earth is spherical is progress for dominant scientific theory, but there are people who believe that the earth is flat