How to address racism in a fantasy setting without it dragging down the game?

Panda-s1

Scruffy and Determined
Not really. But that's okay! It's not just my "analogy," but a pretty-well known use of a developed theory from AI and philosophy that's been applied before to this.

See, e.g.,


I was trying to help you out, but you carry on. :) We can get back to racism in a fantasy setting.
no, you are. the argument was "do chimps use human language?" and then you come in with "WHAT IS UNDERSTANDING?!?" I've known about the Chinese room for years, my point is it's not really a language thing because you can substitute Chinese with a number of different things.
 
L

lowkey13

Guest
no, you are. the argument was "do chimps use human language?" and then you come in with "WHAT IS UNDERSTANDING?!?" I've known about the Chinese room for years, my point is it's not really a language thing because you can substitute Chinese with a number of different things.
"no, you are"

:)

Okay, you got this!
 

Beleriphon

Totally Awesome Pirate Brain
Kanzi, a bonobo, seems to have learned to read the lexigrams used with other bonobos without being trained specifically to do so. So he effectively taught himself to read.

One of the experiments was Kanzi being separated in a different room, provided yogurt and them using vocalizations to get his sister to point a the yogurt symbol. In effect the vocalization seemed to have specific meaning.

He also learned some ASL from watching videos of Koko. It was never an intentionally taught skill, but it was something he learned. I will freely admit that Kanzi seems to be very much an outlier in terms of apes and language, but he does demonstrate that they are capable of using and learning language.
 

Panda-s1

Scruffy and Determined
Kanzi, a bonobo, seems to have learned to read the lexigrams used with other bonobos without being trained specifically to do so. So he effectively taught himself to read.

One of the experiments was Kanzi being separated in a different room, provided yogurt and them using vocalizations to get his sister to point a the yogurt symbol. In effect the vocalization seemed to have specific meaning.

He also learned some ASL from watching videos of Koko. It was never an intentionally taught skill, but it was something he learned. I will freely admit that Kanzi seems to be very much an outlier in terms of apes and language, but he does demonstrate that they are capable of using and learning language.
no, he demonstrates that primates are good at using parts of human language to get things they need. given these studies are about their use of human language, is no else uncomfortable with just how much they rely on the interpretation of researchers to show their ability with language?

as an aside these primates aren't exactly doing well these days, as this article points out: The Strange World of Koko, Kanzi, and the Decline of Ape Language Research
 

Beleriphon

Totally Awesome Pirate Brain
no, he demonstrates that primates are good at using parts of human language to get things they need. given these studies are about their use of human language, is no else uncomfortable with just how much they rely on the interpretation of researchers to show their ability with language?

as an aside these primates aren't exactly doing well these days, as this article points out: The Strange World of Koko, Kanzi, and the Decline of Ape Language Research
There are going to be issues with studies and language when we involve a species that can't communicate with us using the same language. I think the better non-humans to explore as with language would be cetaceans personally, specifically dolphins. But that has a whole bunch of other issues as well.

From what I've seen with cetacean studies they really do understand what we're saying. And generally have a higher level of intelligence compared to apes. I suspect brain mass to both mass is part of it. One example I've seen discussed you talk about one in a negative way and they respond to the person talking about them, typically by splashing them. It doesn't have to be a trainer, the dolphins understand that certain sounds specifically refer to them as an individual and learn to identify that sound. By all accounts dolphins produce thousands of different and discrete sounds that seem to have syntax.
 

Panda-s1

Scruffy and Determined
There are going to be issues with studies and language when we involve a species that can't communicate with us using the same language. I think the better non-humans to explore as with language would be cetaceans personally, specifically dolphins. But that has a whole bunch of other issues as well.

From what I've seen with cetacean studies they really do understand what we're saying. And generally have a higher level of intelligence compared to apes. I suspect brain mass to both mass is part of it. One example I've seen discussed you talk about one in a negative way and they respond to the person talking about them, typically by splashing them. It doesn't have to be a trainer, the dolphins understand that certain sounds specifically refer to them as an individual and learn to identify that sound. By all accounts dolphins produce thousands of different and discrete sounds that seem to have syntax.
okay then dolphins know dolphin language, that doesn't mean they know human language. the issue here whether or not we've just conditioned said animals to use certain behaviors or if they're actually capable of using language in the same way a human does, and a lot of skepticism goes towards the former. like it should be kind of informative how much the public's perception of Koko has come from appeals to emotion made by her caregivers.
 

Beleriphon

Totally Awesome Pirate Brain
okay then dolphins know dolphin language, that doesn't mean they know human language. the issue here whether or not we've just conditioned said animals to use certain behaviors or if they're actually capable of using language in the same way a human does, and a lot of skepticism goes towards the former. like it should be kind of informative how much the public's perception of Koko has come from appeals to emotion made by her caregivers.
I think its fair to suggest that if dolphins know dolphin language (and learn other dolphin dialects, which seems to exist as well) they can learn human language. The testing process isn't that different from getting a young child to perform a task in exchange for a reward. It helps if you've established a series of actions and then test if they can combine those actions in a novel way, or introduce objects that have similar qualities that they haven't seen combined before.

For example balls, red things, but no red balls. Dolphins are particular good at identifying objects, and colours in combination. Or performing actions with objects they haven't been asked to do before. This would indicate they know what the action is and what the object is separately and they have to combine them.
 

Panda-s1

Scruffy and Determined
For example balls, red things, but no red balls. Dolphins are particular good at identifying objects, and colours in combination. Or performing actions with objects they haven't been asked to do before. This would indicate they know what the action is and what the object is separately and they have to combine them.
this is just an example of how they're good at cognition. here's a better test: do that test, then try and ask them to describe the test without any objects.
 

Bohandas

Explorer
okay then dolphins know dolphin language, that doesn't mean they know human language. the issue here whether or not we've just conditioned said animals to use certain behaviors or if they're actually capable of using language in the same way a human does, and a lot of skepticism goes towards the former. like it should be kind of informative how much the public's perception of Koko has come from appeals to emotion made by her caregivers.
Appeals to emotion are problematic, but so is ignoring both the parsimony principle and the copernican principle and adopting a no-true-scotsman stance as to what constitutes language
 

Panda-s1

Scruffy and Determined
Appeals to emotion are problematic, but so is ignoring both the parsimony principle and the copernican principle and adopting a no-true-scotsman stance as to what constitutes language
I've been talking about human language this entire time. in the example I gave virtually every human capable of using human language can pass that test. can we say the same for dophins?
 

Beleriphon

Totally Awesome Pirate Brain
I've been talking about human language this entire time. in the example I gave virtually every human capable of using human language can pass that test. can we say the same for dophins?
Not sure of any way to effectively test that that doesn't run into a problem of learned responses. I suppose we could say the same thing of ourselves, can we really prove we know what a dolphin is telling us to the dolphin?
 

Panda-s1

Scruffy and Determined
Not sure of any way to effectively test that that doesn't run into a problem of learned responses. I suppose we could say the same thing of ourselves, can we really prove we know what a dolphin is telling us to the dolphin?
I'm not sure I actually follow here. the point is humans are capable of using language to discuss things that aren't in their immediate presence, in detail. some animals can communicate similar ideas, but are still lacking in what they can communicate. a lot of people bring up bees and how they can tell other bees what direction to go for food, but afaik it's never been observed they can tell other bees what exactly it is they're telling others to go to.
 

gepetto

Explorer
Seems like an unnecessarily small definition of language, which is just another way of saying verbal communication. If your communicating your ideas and emotions your using language, and you have language, otherwise you couldn't be using it. You might have a small vocabulary and you might have a huge one but either way you still have language. Whether that language is native to you or not is irrelevant.

The idea that the need for interpretation somehow invalidates the communication as a language is just silly. All communication requires some interpretation on the part of everyone involved. And all of the interpretation is imprecise.

Even among humans with the same native language, level of education and cultural background mis-interpretation of meaning is extremely common and the source of much of our interpersonal conflict. Never mind 2 or more people with differing levels of language precision or culture.

The idea that suddenly I'm not really using language because the guy in the french restaurant when i'm on vacation has to try to interpret my meaning is a little ludicrous.

The same way that my dog is definitely using his language however limited when he goes to the backdoor and whines to tell me he needs out. Thats his verbal communication. His vocab is definitely limited. Pretty much hungry, happy, angry and gotta piss. But he's quite proficient at making his thoughts and desires known with it.
 

gepetto

Explorer
I'm not sure I actually follow here. the point is humans are capable of using language to discuss things that aren't in their immediate presence, in detail. some animals can communicate similar ideas, but are still lacking in what they can communicate. a lot of people bring up bees and how they can tell other bees what direction to go for food, but afaik it's never been observed they can tell other bees what exactly it is they're telling others to go to.
There are plenty of people who are also quite lacking in what they can communicate. I wouldnt say they dont have a language.
 

Panda-s1

Scruffy and Determined
Seems like an unnecessarily small definition of language,
not really, I'm talking about human language specifically.
which is just another way of saying verbal communication.
NOPE, a lot of languages are signed, not verbal.
If your communicating your ideas and emotions your using language, and you have language, otherwise you couldn't be using it. You might have a small vocabulary and you might have a huge one but either way you still have language. Whether that language is native to you or not is irrelevant.
it's not about the ability to communicate at all. a cat might get food meowing constantly. another cat might get food by batting it's owner's face. or not, a cat might have a different problem and use the same method because they realize that's a way of getting their owners attention. what's at question here is are these primates cognisizing language the same way humans do, or did they just find a way to get food from their caretakers.
The idea that the need for interpretation somehow invalidates the communication as a language is just silly. All communication requires some interpretation on the part of everyone involved. And all of the interpretation is imprecise.
I never said interpretation invalidates any of this. what I'm saying is the need for the interpreter to tell us exactly what they're saying is a problem. if Koko was taught ASL it should follow that any ASL signer should be able to communicate with her through ASL.
Even among humans with the same native language, level of education and cultural background mis-interpretation of meaning is extremely common and the source of much of our interpersonal conflict. Never mind 2 or more people with differing levels of language precision or culture.
yes, there are things such as jargon, or dialect. but assuming we have two speakers of English, say one from America and one from India, it's reasonable to assume they can communicate using English without having to strain themselves. if they don't understand something the other does they can explain concepts to one another, like "in this part of America, we usually say package instead of parcel". this was literally me and a roommate I had a few years ago, we got along just fine.
The idea that suddenly I'm not really using language because the guy in the french restaurant when i'm on vacation has to try to interpret my meaning is a little ludicrous.
what? how exactly are you ordering that you feel I would interpret you're not using language?
The same way that my dog is definitely using his language however limited when he goes to the backdoor and whines to tell me he needs out. Thats his verbal communication. His vocab is definitely limited. Pretty much hungry, happy, angry and gotta piss. But he's quite proficient at making his thoughts and desires known with it.
is there a discernible difference whether or not he wants to go out to just walk or needs to pee? can you have a deep discussion about politics with your dog?
There are plenty of people who are also quite lacking in what they can communicate. I wouldnt say they dont have a language.
neither would I. this misses the point.
Like me. haha
I mean you're apparently capable of understanding what others are saying and can reply in a way that shows you feel he is describing someone like you.
What about people with bad learning disabilities
how bad? afaik the only real barrier for a human to learn language is severe brain damage or underdevelopment. there's a lot of debate over whether or not the only time someone can really learn language is at a very young age. as you can imagine there's a lot of ethical issues with isolating a young child from any sort of linguistic communication. the only real examples we have are children who were abused and isolated at a very young age until they were in their teens, with almost no language input. they had difficulty learning language, but even then questions such as whether or not they were malnourished or if their trauma has affected their brain too severely makes that hard to figure.

the only cases we have that aren't outright abusive are kids with congenital deafness who grow up in a family that only uses spoken language, but iirc they are capable with learning how to sign at a later age, just maybe not as "articulate" as someone who learned how to sign at a very young age.
 

gepetto

Explorer
it's not about the ability to communicate at all. a cat might get food meowing constantly. another cat might get food by batting it's owner's face. or not, a cat might have a different problem and use the same method because they realize that's a way of getting their owners attention. what's at question here is are these primates cognisizing language the same way humans do, or did they just find a way to get food from their caretakers.
Of course its about whether you can communicate. Thats all language is, communication. If they want food and they found a way to make a noise or sign something to express that then its language.

Thats all we're doing with each other. Grunting rhythmically, and using body language, both subtle and overt to communicate our thoughts and desires. Thats language.

I never said interpretation invalidates any of this. what I'm saying is the need for the interpreter to tell us exactly what they're saying is a problem. if Koko was taught ASL it should follow that any ASL signer should be able to communicate with her through ASL.
And yes it is about interpretation. Your saying that because the chimps teacher is interpreting then it doesnt count because any random signer should be able sit down and understand just as well as the teacher, if I understand you correctly. But thats nonsense.

I have a friend whose husband is learning english, its really broken and he still mixes a lot of japanese in with his sentences. In order for us to understand anything complicated from him she still has to help interpret a lot of what he's saying. Because she knows what he knows of english and what he doesnt and knows him well enough to fill in the blanks. I'm a native english speaker. I cannot sit down and have a conversation with him with full understanding without her to interpret japanese and bridge the gap. Just like the chimps need someone who can sit down and understand chimp, and bridge that gap. It doesnt mean my friends husband doesnt understand the english he can say anymore then it means the chimp isnt understanding sign language it is using.

And in the same way both also need a go between to express a full understanding in the non native language. But doesnt mean they arent using language. Their understanding is incomplete, and their mastery is small, but its still deliberately used and understood language.

yes, there are things such as jargon, or dialect. but assuming we have two speakers of English, say one from America and one from India, it's reasonable to assume they can communicate using English without having to strain themselves. if they don't understand something the other does they can explain concepts to one another, like "in this part of America, we usually say package instead of parcel". this was literally me and a roommate I had a few years ago, we got along just fine.
Travel a bit more. Theres plenty of native english speakers, whether they be fluent in Australian english or the latest version of ebonics where its actually a hell of a struggle to understand just what they are trying to communicate. Facebook comments are another excellent source of the unintelligible gibberish that passes for english among an unfortunate percentage of our population now. Yet they arguably still have language, no matter how primitive it may be.


is there a discernible difference whether or not he wants to go out to just walk or needs to pee? can you have a deep discussion about politics with your dog?
Yes theres a big difference. You can definitely tell why he wants to go out. And I talk to my dog about politics all the time, usually during the nightly news. He doesnt usually do much but stare at me quietly and try to distract me into doing something else, but I assume thats because he's smarter then me and knows to just avoid the whole thing as a bad use of his time and energy.
 

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