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The Seven Blunders of The World

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ktz
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The Seven Blunders of The World

Post by ktz » December 14th, 2018, 2:05 pm

A_Seagull wrote:
December 13th, 2018, 5:44 pm
ktz wrote:
December 1st, 2018, 11:52 am

...the "Seven Blunders of the World"?

Wealth without work.
Pleasure without conscience.
Knowledge without character.
Commerce without morality.
Science without humanity.
Worship without sacrifice.
Politics without principle.
Seems to me that to label these as 'blunders' is nothing more than naïve propaganda. It certainly isn't philosophy.
A_Seagull wrote: Or do you want to try to 'justify' them? See if you can justify them without invoking an element of propaganda, naïve or otherwise.
So I've been asked by a seagull to provide justification "without invoking an element of propaganda" for something I referenced in passing in a different thread, which is "The Seven Blunders of the World" presented in the quote above.

There's some fairly easy low-hanging fruit here on a historical basis, given that this list was originally conceived as the "7 Deadly Social Evils", in a sermon delivered in Westminster Abbey on March 20, 1925 by an Anglican priest named Frederick Lewis Donaldson, who later become Archdeacon of Westminster. They were retitled as "The Seven Social Sins" by Mohandas Gandhi when he recounted the idea in a magazine called Young India, and the term Seven Blunders of the World is recounted by his grandson, Arun Gandhi, speaking of their last conversation before Gandhi's passing.

A quick trip to Google defines propaganda as "information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view", and I think it can be reasonably asserted that an arbitrary English church sermon in the 1920s would be a simple talk on a religious and moral subject, not provided with the intention to publicize any political cause or point of view. The low hanging fruit I mentioned is just leaving a big fat QED here, fairly confident that I can defend any attempt to paint biblical sermons from the 1920s to be accurately described by the term naive propaganda.

Any dismissal of this reasoning on the basis of Christianity not being relevant to philosophy would run pretty quickly into detractions on the basis of the works of Aquinas and Kierkegaard, among others. Not to mention that Gandhi himself wasn't a Christian, so clearly he refers to them for moral content not constrained by the context of Christianity. Or who knows, maybe this seagull guy will really come at me by saying that elements within Christianity itself meet the necessary and sufficient criteria for propaganda. With politics subsuming so much of modern discourse I suppose I couldn't be too surprised. Jesus if alive today would probably get labeled as a stinking liberal socialist welfare-king or whatever.

Still, although taking that cheap strategy might get into the kind of dogma-fest that typically aids me in propping up my massive ego, I would probably be missing a more intellectually productive conversation we could have based on investigating the actual justifications for each of these so-called blunders individually.

So, I'm going to make a case for the avoidance of each of these sins as individual Kantian categorical imperatives. By doing so I am accepting my burden of proof to be the comparative demonstration of the condition where every individual categorically avoids each blunder to be ethically superior to the condition where everyone is free to commit the blunder described. They are the "blunders of the world", not blunders of some individuals who personally profit from engaging in parasitic behavior.

Establishing this platform is designed to rule out any arguments based on the moral value of prisoner's dilemma-type gains, where one party profits at the expense of a different party, since I'm anticipating certain types of objectivist detractions that don't belong in a conversation about the normative interpretation of these blunders. I'm open to being challenged on this approach and various definitions, since it would probably be to my benefit to do a deep dive into deontology and the CoPR or the Metaphysics of Morals or whatever bit of Kant this originally comes from.

That being established, I'll now try my best to operate within the constraints of this guy telling me to see if I can go "without invoking an element of propaganda, naive or otherwise" although I'll leave it to him to have to point out directly if I cross the line of his particular nebulous conceptions of propaganda and naivete/otherwise being referenced here.

OK, also fair warning that 7 categorical imperatives is kind of a lot to discuss in one thread, and concision is definitely not my specialty. I'll try my best to be brief and only go into more depth when pressed.



Blunder 1: Wealth without Work
Wealth without work is almost just the very definition of rent-seeking. I could literally just go recount Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations as justification for why this is a bad thing, try Book V, Chapter I, Part III Of the Expense of public Works and public Institutions. Smith talks about the downside of charging exorbitant tolls that exceed the cost for repairs, and also talks about monopolies and the bad things that can happen to a society when the accumulation of wealth does not correlate to the creation of value.

Getting back to the 20th century, I could start with Gordon Tullock's paper on rent-seeking and then basically cite the entirety of public choice theory. To do my best to boil it down, basically wealth without work is bad because it creates a moral hazard where people are incentivized to act in a way that extracts existing value from the system instead of creating value to the system, meaning that if everyone gets wealth without work, no one invokes the invisible hand. Monopolies, cartels, regulatory capture, and concentrated benefits with diffuse costs are concrete examples of negative economic consequences of failing to adhere to the avoidance of blunder 1. If the conversation heads in this direction I'll probably be pulling a lot from John Kay's book on the 2008 financial crisis titled Other People's Money.

Blunder 2: Pleasure without conscience
Maybe I should just namedrop Aristotle and be done with it, since pretty much everything I can remember him saying in conjunction with virtue seems relevant. Or i could try to call @chewybrian over here, since he can probably provide his trademark super instructive stoic insight, this time into the conception of how and why pleasure should follow virtue.

But honestly I doubt we will talk too long about this blunder because it should be fairly obvious the kind of transgressions that can happen when everyone is free to seek pleasure without having a conscience -- e.g. stuff like opioid addiction at the individual level, the consumption-induced sixth extinction on a collective basis. Although besides the stoics it's possible there might be interesting position for me to take along the lines of Nozick's Utility Monster, for example.

Blunder 3: Knowledge without character.

I literally just got chewed out in a different thread about Nietzsche for being someone who reads but doesn't "write in blood", as Nietzsche puts it -- hopefully Nietzsche's Zarathustra meets the criteria of not being "propaganda". So, maybe I can just make the case that all theory and no action is pretty useless and therefore we should be avoiding this blunder on a collective basis. I think this blunder is intended more along the lines of the knowledge is power concept, though, and attempting to avoid the worst-case risks of stuff like the Manhattan project, for example. Do you want every country to have the knowledge to make nuclear weapons, or can you imagine it to be reasonable to advise that possession of knowledge ought to be limited by constraints on the character of the knowledge-holders?

Blunder 4: Commerce without morality.
We're back to Adam Smith, I guess, this time basically the entirety of his Theory of Moral Sentiment which underpins the rest of his work. But I'm happy to start by busting out Keynes and his whole bit about economic activity as a means to ethical ends if we want to do the big deed and start going through all the Vienna vs Chicago stuff of the last century. I haven't bothered to investigate the guy I'm talking to but I kind of assume from the way he's addressing me as spouting "naive propaganda" that he's, at best, either a Chicago School fanatic or an Ayn Rand bobblehead -- so I'd guess this blunder is probably the crux of what we will end up talking about.

Blunder 5: Science without humanity.
Here's an interesting one. Were the MK Ultra experiments ethical? How about the Allied pardon to WW2 Japanese scientists who committed atrocities in exchange for the results of their research data? The easiest case I can make is that this blunder historically has led to well-documented and seriously terrifying human rights abuses -- if anyone isn't familiar with the Japanese WW2 stuff it's some of the most disturbing stuff I've ever encountered.

When the genomic revolution happens, and I do think it will happen seeing as the first set of CRISPR edited twins are already alive in China, if we don't adhere to ethical standards there's going to be a whole of bunch of weird deformities and mutations and unnecessary suffering at best -- full-on existential genomic corruption at worst. I can also look more deeply into scientific ethics if people want to talk about this.

Blunder 6: Worship without sacrifice.
The Christian roots start to show up here -- the Bible is full of this one. Empirical examples of this blunder being committed would be stuff like those Joel Osteen-type Megachurch pastors flying around in their private jets. The risk of this commission of this blunder on a categorical basis is simply getting a world full of virtue signalling instead of virtue. Maybe we should talk about Baudrillard's desert of the real and the downsides of the precession of simulacra -- anomie, ennui, all that cheery French goodness. Or we can point this one towards the conversation/controversy that still touches Max Weber's The Protestant Work Ethic. It all seems a bit relevant, anyway.

Blunder 7: Politics without principle.
This one can probably be summarized in a word why we should try to avoid it -- corruption -- so the correct approach to justifying against this blunder is probably back to citing pretty much every paper in public choice theory ever that contains the words "regulatory capture". Or maybe a reference to Robert Penn Warren's All The King's Men would be enough. Or if we want modern and stylish then we could go to the wildcard Nassim Taleb on his stuff about needing "skin in the game".

But honestly I have been looking for an excuse to talk about Habermas's political theory for some time, like the stuff with his discourse ethics, and I think it's relevant here. Basically, when everyone has their own agenda as is often the case in political speech, we need to try to seek intersubjective validity claims and the common ground they can provide if we want to prevent the Nash equilibrium from devolving into defect-defect variants of the prisoner's dilemma.



That's all 7. I'll leave it to the accusatory party to see if this meets his criteria of avoiding "propaganda, naive or otherwise". I hope I can be forgiven for wondering if I'm even actually talking with someone who is actually interested in exploring these ideas. This is my first encounter with this guy and I can't say I'm too impressed with his commitment to genuine philosophical inquiry so far. Dude seems like kind of a smug bully tbh, but I guess similar accusations can reasonably be levied at me. I suppose on the bright side I would rather be naive than unethical, so maybe I should just adopt the labels he's using against me with some degree of pride.

I'm tempted to say some even less generous stuff than I already have, but I'm trying to kick my habit of making unflattering assumptions of people who disagree with me. I'll wait and see if I actually get addressed here by @A_Seagull directly -- probably his response or lack thereof will speak for itself. Hopefully this is a broad enough topic that some interesting conversations with others can result even if it turns out that I'm getting jebaited by some Russian dogma bot.
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Re: The Seven Blunders of The World

Post by chewybrian » December 14th, 2018, 3:43 pm

I'm glad you took the time to work through this list. It raises many interesting points, and it surely has a lot to say about our society here today (in the states). You could have made it easier on yourself, and just said: "Don't be a lawyer".
ktz wrote:
December 14th, 2018, 2:05 pm
Blunder 2: Pleasure without conscience
Maybe I should just namedrop Aristotle and be done with it, since pretty much everything I can remember him saying in conjunction with virtue seems relevant. Or i could try to call @chewybrian over here, since he can probably provide his trademark super instructive stoic insight, this time into the conception of how and why pleasure should follow virtue.

But honestly I doubt we will talk too long about this blunder because it should be fairly obvious...
Even Epicurus would tell you that seeking a life of pleasure requires virtue:
One can not live pleasurably without living prudently, honorably and justly.-Epicurus
Step one for the stoics: don't seek pleasure from external sources. If you can't control it, in the way you can control your own opinions or actions, then you can never count on it. Trump, Madonna, Lindsey Lohan, Charlie Sheen... You don't think these folks are really happy, do you?

But the real question is: why is virtue its own reward?

You can sleep the sleep of the just. You don't have the pain of guilt over what you have done. You don't have the anxiety from the fear of being caught. You will earn the respect of the worthwhile people who come to know you. You can have real, well deserved self-esteem, and frienships with friends worth having. You don't have to shout or dramatize things if people know you are a straight-shooter. The less you say, the more attention they will likely pay (the worthwhile people, that is).

The real kicker is that your perspective of the world will be that of a just man, and that means you will see and experience a better world, in effect. We all project our own outlook onto others, and if that outlook is one of virtue, then we will 'see' a more virtuous world around us. Epictetus would probably scold you for assuming the opinions or motives to your adversary, btw.

The bottom line is that becoming a virtuous man is reward enough:
So, you say, what good do I get [from virtue]? But what more good do you want than this? Instead of being a shameless man you will become a dignified man, instead of chaotic you will become organized, from being untrustworthy you will become trustworthy, instead of being out of control you will become sane. If you want anything more than this, keep on doing what you are already doing: not even a God can now help you.

--Marcus Aurelius
"If determinism holds, then past events have conspired to cause me to hold this view--it is out of my control. Either I am right about free will, or it is not my fault that I am wrong."

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Re: The Seven Blunders of The World

Post by A_Seagull » December 16th, 2018, 1:22 am

ktz wrote:
December 14th, 2018, 2:05 pm
A_Seagull wrote:
December 13th, 2018, 5:44 pm


Seems to me that to label these as 'blunders' is nothing more than naïve propaganda. It certainly isn't philosophy.
A_Seagull wrote: Or do you want to try to 'justify' them? See if you can justify them without invoking an element of propaganda, naïve or otherwise.
So I've been asked by a seagull to provide justification "without invoking an element of propaganda" for something I referenced in passing in a different thread, which is "The Seven Blunders of the World" presented in the quote above.

There's some fairly easy low-hanging fruit here on a historical basis, given that this list was originally conceived as the "7 Deadly Social Evils", in a sermon delivered in Westminster Abbey on March 20, 1925 by an Anglican priest named Frederick Lewis Donaldson, who later become Archdeacon of Westminster. They were retitled as "The Seven Social Sins" by Mohandas Gandhi when he recounted the idea in a magazine called Young India, and the term Seven Blunders of the World is recounted by his grandson, Arun Gandhi, speaking of their last conversation before Gandhi's passing.

A quick trip to Google defines propaganda as "information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view", and I think it can be reasonably asserted that an arbitrary English church sermon in the 1920s would be a simple talk on a religious and moral subject, not provided with the intention to publicize any political cause or point of view. The low hanging fruit I mentioned is just leaving a big fat QED here, fairly confident that I can defend any attempt to paint biblical sermons from the 1920s to be accurately described by the term naive propaganda.

Any dismissal of this reasoning on the basis of Christianity not being relevant to philosophy would run pretty quickly into detractions on the basis of the works of Aquinas and Kierkegaard, among others. Not to mention that Gandhi himself wasn't a Christian, so clearly he refers to them for moral content not constrained by the context of Christianity. Or who knows, maybe this seagull guy will really come at me by saying that elements within Christianity itself meet the necessary and sufficient criteria for propaganda. With politics subsuming so much of modern discourse I suppose I couldn't be too surprised. Jesus if alive today would probably get labeled as a stinking liberal socialist welfare-king or whatever.

Still, although taking that cheap strategy might get into the kind of dogma-fest that typically aids me in propping up my massive ego, I would probably be missing a more intellectually productive conversation we could have based on investigating the actual justifications for each of these so-called blunders individually.

So, I'm going to make a case for the avoidance of each of these sins as individual Kantian categorical imperatives. By doing so I am accepting my burden of proof to be the comparative demonstration of the condition where every individual categorically avoids each blunder to be ethically superior to the condition where everyone is free to commit the blunder described. They are the "blunders of the world", not blunders of some individuals who personally profit from engaging in parasitic behavior.

Establishing this platform is designed to rule out any arguments based on the moral value of prisoner's dilemma-type gains, where one party profits at the expense of a different party, since I'm anticipating certain types of objectivist detractions that don't belong in a conversation about the normative interpretation of these blunders. I'm open to being challenged on this approach and various definitions, since it would probably be to my benefit to do a deep dive into deontology and the CoPR or the Metaphysics of Morals or whatever bit of Kant this originally comes from.

That being established, I'll now try my best to operate within the constraints of this guy telling me to see if I can go "without invoking an element of propaganda, naive or otherwise" although I'll leave it to him to have to point out directly if I cross the line of his particular nebulous conceptions of propaganda and naivete/otherwise being referenced here.

OK, also fair warning that 7 categorical imperatives is kind of a lot to discuss in one thread, and concision is definitely not my specialty. I'll try my best to be brief and only go into more depth when pressed.



Blunder 1: Wealth without Work
Wealth without work is almost just the very definition of rent-seeking. I could literally just go recount Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations as justification for why this is a bad thing, try Book V, Chapter I, Part III Of the Expense of public Works and public Institutions. Smith talks about the downside of charging exorbitant tolls that exceed the cost for repairs, and also talks about monopolies and the bad things that can happen to a society when the accumulation of wealth does not correlate to the creation of value.

Getting back to the 20th century, I could start with Gordon Tullock's paper on rent-seeking and then basically cite the entirety of public choice theory. To do my best to boil it down, basically wealth without work is bad because it creates a moral hazard where people are incentivized to act in a way that extracts existing value from the system instead of creating value to the system, meaning that if everyone gets wealth without work, no one invokes the invisible hand. Monopolies, cartels, regulatory capture, and concentrated benefits with diffuse costs are concrete examples of negative economic consequences of failing to adhere to the avoidance of blunder 1. If the conversation heads in this direction I'll probably be pulling a lot from John Kay's book on the 2008 financial crisis titled Other People's Money.

Blunder 2: Pleasure without conscience
Maybe I should just namedrop Aristotle and be done with it, since pretty much everything I can remember him saying in conjunction with virtue seems relevant. Or i could try to call @chewybrian over here, since he can probably provide his trademark super instructive stoic insight, this time into the conception of how and why pleasure should follow virtue.

But honestly I doubt we will talk too long about this blunder because it should be fairly obvious the kind of transgressions that can happen when everyone is free to seek pleasure without having a conscience -- e.g. stuff like opioid addiction at the individual level, the consumption-induced sixth extinction on a collective basis. Although besides the stoics it's possible there might be interesting position for me to take along the lines of Nozick's Utility Monster, for example.

Blunder 3: Knowledge without character.

I literally just got chewed out in a different thread about Nietzsche for being someone who reads but doesn't "write in blood", as Nietzsche puts it -- hopefully Nietzsche's Zarathustra meets the criteria of not being "propaganda". So, maybe I can just make the case that all theory and no action is pretty useless and therefore we should be avoiding this blunder on a collective basis. I think this blunder is intended more along the lines of the knowledge is power concept, though, and attempting to avoid the worst-case risks of stuff like the Manhattan project, for example. Do you want every country to have the knowledge to make nuclear weapons, or can you imagine it to be reasonable to advise that possession of knowledge ought to be limited by constraints on the character of the knowledge-holders?

Blunder 4: Commerce without morality.
We're back to Adam Smith, I guess, this time basically the entirety of his Theory of Moral Sentiment which underpins the rest of his work. But I'm happy to start by busting out Keynes and his whole bit about economic activity as a means to ethical ends if we want to do the big deed and start going through all the Vienna vs Chicago stuff of the last century. I haven't bothered to investigate the guy I'm talking to but I kind of assume from the way he's addressing me as spouting "naive propaganda" that he's, at best, either a Chicago School fanatic or an Ayn Rand bobblehead -- so I'd guess this blunder is probably the crux of what we will end up talking about.

Blunder 5: Science without humanity.
Here's an interesting one. Were the MK Ultra experiments ethical? How about the Allied pardon to WW2 Japanese scientists who committed atrocities in exchange for the results of their research data? The easiest case I can make is that this blunder historically has led to well-documented and seriously terrifying human rights abuses -- if anyone isn't familiar with the Japanese WW2 stuff it's some of the most disturbing stuff I've ever encountered.

When the genomic revolution happens, and I do think it will happen seeing as the first set of CRISPR edited twins are already alive in China, if we don't adhere to ethical standards there's going to be a whole of bunch of weird deformities and mutations and unnecessary suffering at best -- full-on existential genomic corruption at worst. I can also look more deeply into scientific ethics if people want to talk about this.

Blunder 6: Worship without sacrifice.
The Christian roots start to show up here -- the Bible is full of this one. Empirical examples of this blunder being committed would be stuff like those Joel Osteen-type Megachurch pastors flying around in their private jets. The risk of this commission of this blunder on a categorical basis is simply getting a world full of virtue signalling instead of virtue. Maybe we should talk about Baudrillard's desert of the real and the downsides of the precession of simulacra -- anomie, ennui, all that cheery French goodness. Or we can point this one towards the conversation/controversy that still touches Max Weber's The Protestant Work Ethic. It all seems a bit relevant, anyway.

Blunder 7: Politics without principle.
This one can probably be summarized in a word why we should try to avoid it -- corruption -- so the correct approach to justifying against this blunder is probably back to citing pretty much every paper in public choice theory ever that contains the words "regulatory capture". Or maybe a reference to Robert Penn Warren's All The King's Men would be enough. Or if we want modern and stylish then we could go to the wildcard Nassim Taleb on his stuff about needing "skin in the game".

But honestly I have been looking for an excuse to talk about Habermas's political theory for some time, like the stuff with his discourse ethics, and I think it's relevant here. Basically, when everyone has their own agenda as is often the case in political speech, we need to try to seek intersubjective validity claims and the common ground they can provide if we want to prevent the Nash equilibrium from devolving into defect-defect variants of the prisoner's dilemma.

Blunder - 'A stupid or careless mistake'

If one is to assert that some situation or action is a 'blunder' then it must be cogently argued for how such an action inevitably leads to what can be considered to be a bad consequence for the person carrying out the action. It is not sufficient to show that in general there is a likelihood that such actions or behaviour may lead to a bad consequence. (To walk across a high wire without a safety net is only a blunder if one falls.)

Nor is it sufficient to give a few particular examples and then generalise to universals.

I rarely follow links or references as I consider this to be a forum where people express their own views and arguments. If someone cannot express their ideas clearly and in their own words then I have but little interest in engaging in discourse with them. ( I cannot engage in discourse with philosophers past or absent) (No personal slight or offense intended.)

In light of the above I am entirely unconvinced by your arguments.

Some comments on the 7 'blunders':

Wealth without work is a worthwhile goal, although probably not achievable for most people. ( Thales was admired for his cornering of the harvesting machinery. It probably was a major contributor to his ability to philosophise.)

Pleasure without conscience would seem to be pure bliss. A commendable goal.

Knowledge without character.. perhaps a bit of knowledge might improve someone's character.

Commerce without morality... Commerce is inevitably an amoral pursuit of gold. It is up to governments to provide the morality.

Science without humanity .. Science is an enquiry into the nature of the world; it cannot be usefully tempered by humanitarian concerns. It is technology, not science, for which humanitarian concerns become relevant.

Worship without sacrifice... Worship with or without sacrifice seems to me to be a pointless exercise. But whether it can be shown to be a necessary blunder is another matter.

Politics without principle.. seems to have an element of self-contradiction as it is politicians who determine what the principles are.

Also... I was using 'propaganda' with the specific meaning of : A communication that is intended by the instigator to influence the thinking of the receiver for the benefit of the instigator.
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Re: The Seven Blunders of The World

Post by Greta » December 16th, 2018, 3:26 am

Wealth without work.
Pleasure without conscience.
Knowledge without character.
Commerce without morality.
Science without humanity.
Worship without sacrifice.
Politics without principle.
What of art or music without passion? Belief without logic? Emotions without reason?

Besides, wouldn't industriousness, sacrifice, conscience, character, morality, humanity and principle ideally apply to wealth, pleasure, knowledge, commerce, science, worship and politics? Further, in the spirit of George Carlin bundling up the Ten Commandments to reduce repetition, conscience, character, morality, humanity and principle could sit pretty fairly tidily under the banner of "ethics".

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Re: The Seven Blunders of The World

Post by chewybrian » December 16th, 2018, 5:35 am

A_Seagull wrote:
December 16th, 2018, 1:22 am
Blunder - 'A stupid or careless mistake'
Propaganda - 'A congregation of the Roman curia having jurisdiction over missionary territories and related institutions.'

Are we going to dismiss someone's entire argument because it had a clever title that might not be literally correct?
ktz wrote:
December 14th, 2018, 2:05 pm
...this list was originally conceived as the "7 Deadly Social Evils", in a sermon delivered in Westminster Abbey on March 20, 1925 by an Anglican priest named Frederick Lewis Donaldson, who later become Archdeacon of Westminster. They were retitled as "The Seven Social Sins" by Mohandas Gandhi when he recounted the idea in a magazine called Young India, and the term Seven Blunders of the World is recounted by his grandson...
He clearly explained the title prior to your objection about the word 'blunder'.
A_Seagull wrote:
December 16th, 2018, 1:22 am
Wealth without work is a worthwhile goal, although probably not achievable for most people. ( Thales was admired for his cornering of the harvesting machinery. It probably was a major contributor to his ability to philosophise.)
But the point was clearly not about using technology to create value. It was about accumulating wealth without adding value. It was about 'harvesting' the efforts of others by using monopoly power or a cartel, by taking advantage of others in the marketplace in some way.
Pleasure without conscience would seem to be pure bliss. A commendable goal.
So...if your greatest pleasure is abusing children, torturing animals, or hunting people for sport, then good for you if you are able to enjoy your favorite pastimes all day long? Don't you believe in virtue at all, even to the extent that you have a social contract which should be honored? You feel no obligation to consider the effects of your actions on others, on the environment, etc? Seeking anything, including pleasure, without conscience is despicable by definition.

despicable - 'Deserving to be despised : so worthless or obnoxious as to rouse moral indignation.'
Knowledge without character.. perhaps a bit of knowledge might improve someone's character.
Unless it is knowledge of moral principles, then no. If I learn how to build a nuclear weapon, does this knowledge alone build my character? Or, would I be more likely to abuse my newfound power unless I had character to guide me? Such knowledge given to a selfish person with no conscience would only turn an annoying person into a powerful tyrant. Why would it would it encourage benevolence in that type of person?
Commerce without morality... Commerce is inevitably an amoral pursuit of gold.
All the individuals engaging in commerce are free to do so in an ethical way. They can pay fair wages, buy from suppliers that don't pollute or abuse their workers, and sell for fair prices rather than taking advantage of some temporary edge they may have. There is sometimes a payoff for playing fair in dollars, too. You can gain customer loyalty when you treat them fairly. You can more easily hire and retain good employees as well. You might avoid legal problems and the expenses that come along with them (you don't always get away with everything).
It is up to governments to provide the morality.
Is your position, then, that morals are for suckers? Is this the principle you bring to the ethics and morality forum?

We are all free to do whatever we think we can get away with? I owe nothing to any other inhabitant of the world, and it is up to the rest of the world to monitor and correct my behavior at all times? You seem to be giving a perfect demonstration of the person for whom the list is designed. I want to believe that you are not such a person, that you were so focused on winning the argument that you lost sight of reality. Is it so? Do you want to walk back any of this, or have I read it wrong? Or, do you think the world is just one big cage match?
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Re: The Seven Blunders of The World

Post by Burning ghost » December 16th, 2018, 9:10 am

Ktz -

They seem pretty solid to me. I imagine there are a number of others that could dethrone most of the though.

I think Seagull has some extremely perverrse ideas or is simply being antagonistic because of something else you’ve said? I cannot fathom why there was any challange to these points or see any sense in what Seagull has written.

I wouldn’t worry about one person’s obtuse opinion. There doesn’t seem to be any substance to the critique offered (none that I can see anyway?).
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Re: The Seven Blunders of The World

Post by ktz » December 16th, 2018, 1:14 pm

Burning ghost wrote:
December 16th, 2018, 9:10 am
Ktz -

They seem pretty solid to me. I imagine there are a number of others that could dethrone most of the though.
You're probably right. I mean, this is from a biblical sermon originally. And then Gandhi was trained as a lawyer, and clearly his name gives the ideas some weight, but honestly he had some pretty questionable judgment in many ways and I don't think he's the be-all-end-all authority on deontology obviously.
BG wrote:
I think Seagull has some extremely perverrse ideas or is simply being antagonistic because of something else you’ve said? I cannot fathom why there was any challange to these points or see any sense in what Seagull has written.

I wouldn’t worry about one person’s obtuse opinion. There doesn’t seem to be any substance to the critique offered (none that I can see anyway?).
The thing is, I actually think his me-first viewpoint is an extremely common one among MBAs and Wall Street traders, who could reasonably be considered intelligent and educated people, though perhaps not beacons of moral behavior. It's a fashionable enough position in economic academia that its proponents in the Chicago School regularly get awarded the Nobel prize for economics. I think the vast majority of libertarians and conservatives both educated and not actually would agree with him that these are not blunders, but are in fact mostly desirable goals on the individual level -- which perhaps due to their misunderstanding of the invisible hand, seems to be the only level that matters. Many of them have been equally disrespectful to me as well when I try to even try to have a conversation about the harms of rent-seeking or regulatory capture -- to them, that's just the way the game should be played for maximum benefit and I'm naive to think otherwise. That's why I kept trying to reference the Chicago School of economic thought, which as I understand has led the economic justification of the concept of shareholder value at any cost to society, and other types of financial instruments that fall into the category of blunders which Gandhi advises against.

I think his refusal to engage with established economics and philosophy makes him a pretty terrible target for a deep discussion into these ideas -- ignorance of what I'm referencing is OK, but laziness or stupidity will really hold back our ability to explore these ideas with real depth -- and I made a point to avoid guys like Polanyi or Gramschi who end up getting associated with socialism just because they care more about the impact on collective society rather than personal profit. I actually think understanding why these are correctly characterized as blunders is not entirely obvious given how many intelligent people I've met seem to think otherwise. But what really irks me is how Adam Smith himself denounced a lot of what's going on today with deregulation, but so many people have just bought into the Chicago School hook, line, and sinker that any contradictory idea is naive propaganda.
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Re: The Seven Blunders of The World

Post by ktz » December 16th, 2018, 2:43 pm

A_Seagull wrote:
December 16th, 2018, 1:22 am
Blunder - 'A stupid or careless mistake'

If one is to assert that some situation or action is a 'blunder' then it must be cogently argued for how such an action inevitably leads to what can be considered to be a bad consequence for the person carrying out the action. It is not sufficient to show that in general there is a likelihood that such actions or behaviour may lead to a bad consequence. (To walk across a high wire without a safety net is only a blunder if one falls.)

Nor is it sufficient to give a few particular examples and then generalise to universals.
I see you don't know or care what deontology is or what Kant had to say. I wasn't aware that that I was talking to someone who can't engage in discourse with philosophers past or absent, so I appreciate you letting me know that. I don't feel slighted or offended although it seems obvious to me that this will make the discussion a lot more shallow. To me it seems like a weird handicap to not be able to reference or explain one of the most famous philosophers ever on a philosophy forum, but OK, that's fine.

Let me see if I can explain it in terms you can understand.

In biology, there's a class of organism called a parasite. A parasite is an organism that steals nutrients from another organism without providing any symbiotic benefits in return. Sometimes parasites are just annoyances, like mosquitoes or tapeworms. But some parasites actually result in the death of their host, and rely on their ability to reproduce before that happening -- because when the host dies, often they will die as well. If an ecological system has too many parasites that steal nutrients like light and water from organisms performing essential ecological functions, they can cause the ecosystem to collapse.

A related idea from biology is called multi-level selection. This idea is simple to understand: selfish individuals beat altruistic individuals, but groups of altruistic individuals beat groups of selfish individuals. The reason why Gandhi titled these the Seven Blunders of the World, and not the Seven Individual Blunders, is because these are selfish mistakes that only show their harm when too many people engage in them. They are designed to advise people not to behave in a way that is parasitic to the overall society. That is why I only need to demonstrate the kind of parasitic behavior that can happen without these restrictions, and why it doesn't matter that acting in a parasitic way technically helps a selfish individual. You are wrong to say that I am trying to generalize based on individual occurrences -- the logic of a categorical imperative is the fact that if everyone commits these social sins, they will most certainly become blunders in the same way that an ecosystem filled with too many selfish parasites cannot sustain itself. Even if one person individually doing it is not causing himself any harm, the problem is if everyone does it then we all collectively suffer. I know you said you can't handle external references, but it might really would be worth your while to type "Prisoner's Dilemma Experiments" into Google.

To repurpose your high-wire argument, let's imagine there is a sign on the high-wire that says "Only 1 Person at a time". By your logic, this sign is naive propaganda, because someone good enough at the high-wire who doesn't fall is not committing a blunder no matter how many people are on there. Nevermind the fact that you might shake the wire and knock someone else off, or that someone else might get on and knock you off. In the position you are advocating for, any rule that you don't benefit from in every instance is incapable of preventing blunders, including this sign designed to stop people from causing or receiving unexpected harm.

The difference between you and me in this conversation, it seems, is that Gandhi, Chewy, and I are speaking on the basis of helping everyone, and you are speaking on the basis of only helping yourself. If nobody respects these blunders, we run the risk of parasitic behavior killing the host -- human society -- and that's not good for anyone, even the parasite who enriches himself in the short term. Is that a cogent enough argument for you?
I rarely follow links or references as I consider this to be a forum where people express their own views and arguments. If someone cannot express their ideas clearly and in their own words then I have but little interest in engaging in discourse with them. ( I cannot engage in discourse with philosophers past or absent) (No personal slight or offense intended.)

In light of the above I am entirely unconvinced by your arguments.
Fair enough, it's hard for my arguments to be persuasive when you don't understand them and are unwilling to take the time to investigate what they mean. I hope you can understand why this one is on you and not me, though. Given your fairly transparent cowardice or indolence, and considering the lack of moral content in the arguments you provided, it's apparent to me that you are out of your depth here and unlikely to be a worthy partner for a real philosophical exploration into these concepts. I am open to standing corrected here, but honestly, I'm not expecting much. I can lead the horse to water but...
Some comments on the 7 'blunders':
I think @chewybrian did a good job in clearly addressing some of the deficiencies in your argument, so I'll let you address him first before I bother to engage with you again. At the risk of breaking forum rules, I think if we take the dictionary definition of "naive" into account: (of a person or action) showing a lack of experience, wisdom, or judgment. If you take an honest look at your childish one sentence arguments in comparison to my positions supported by academic references, who seems like the naive one here?
Also... I was using 'propaganda' with the specific meaning of : A communication that is intended by the instigator to influence the thinking of the receiver for the benefit of the instigator.
Wow, OK this is kind of hilarious... I mean, communication is not a zero-sum game. If you are driving a car into oncoming traffic, and I honk at you to stop you from crashing into me and killing us both, my honk fits the definition of "a communication that is intended to influence the thinking of the receiver for the benefit of the instigator." Do you really think it's reasonable for my honk to be called propaganda? Are you sure propaganda under this definition is something you want to avoid at all costs? I'd recommend in the future you let the dictionary define things, since it might prevent you from revealing yourself in another instance where you have no idea what you're talking about.

The Seven Blunders of the World is just a prosaic description of some categorical imperatives that would help everyone if we were all willing to abide by them. In our deregulated society, you are free to do whatever you want to enrich yourself, even go afoul of the law if you don't get caught. There are many other intelligent people who share your worldview. Maybe I really am naive to think that humans at scale are even capable of anything better than being selfish twats. I just hope you take a second in the future to consider that someone who posts something contradicting your worldview might not necessarily be a naive propagandist. I think it would be to your advantage to re-examine your ban on external resources here, since you might actually learn something that would help us all. I would appreciate if you would take some time to examine even just one of my external references on any of these blunders and address it directly before you come in here talking about how entirely unconvinced you are. At least if you care in the least bit of not looking as foolish as you did here.
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Re: The Seven Blunders of The World

Post by ktz » December 16th, 2018, 2:52 pm

Greta wrote:
December 16th, 2018, 3:26 am
Wealth without work.
Pleasure without conscience.
Knowledge without character.
Commerce without morality.
Science without humanity.
Worship without sacrifice.
Politics without principle.
What of art or music without passion? Belief without logic? Emotions without reason?


Besides, wouldn't industriousness, sacrifice, conscience, character, morality, humanity and principle ideally apply to wealth, pleasure, knowledge, commerce, science, worship and politics?
You got me... I couldn't find a copy of the original sermon, so I've no idea why the priest chose these 7 over any other good targets. I imagine there's some biblical point he was trying to make overall. Gandhi too, just quoted 'em verbatim without explaining himself. Maybe there's some connection to some famous 7 in hermeneutics or theology somewhere, but I don't think I'm equipped to be able to track down that reference. I'm not sure what you mean by the ideal application, though.
Greta wrote: Further, in the spirit of George Carlin bundling up the Ten Commandments to reduce repetition, conscience, character, morality, humanity and principle could sit pretty fairly tidily under the banner of "ethics".
Haha sure, I think that's true. Carlin I think would recognize the logic of these, but he'd probably agree that they were naive and wouldn't consider them blunders. "The planet is fine... the PEOPLE are f***ed."
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Re: The Seven Blunders of The World

Post by A_Seagull » December 16th, 2018, 3:31 pm

ktz wrote:
December 16th, 2018, 2:43 pm
The difference between you and me in this conversation, it seems, is that Gandhi, Chewy, and I are speaking on the basis of helping everyone, and you are speaking on the basis of only helping yourself.
And what have you done to 'help everyone'? And what makes you think that what you have done is greater than what I have done.. and am doing?
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Re: The Seven Blunders of The World

Post by ktz » December 16th, 2018, 5:04 pm

A_Seagull wrote:
December 16th, 2018, 3:31 pm
ktz wrote:
December 16th, 2018, 2:43 pm
The difference between you and me in this conversation, it seems, is that Gandhi, Chewy, and I are speaking on the basis of helping everyone, and you are speaking on the basis of only helping yourself.
And what have you done to 'help everyone'? And what makes you think that what you have done is greater than what I have done.. and am doing?
I shouldn't let you bait me, since I'm going to get tired of saying this: you fail to understand what I am saying. My quote that you referenced means that, in the course of our argument, I have advocated for an philosophical basis that uses a value criterion of the general welfare to judge whether something is a blunder -- when committed at scale. You have advocated for an philosophical basis that uses a value criterion of one individual's personal benefit to judge if something is a blunder -- when committed at the individual level. By definition, my position is "greater" than your position, because everyone > 1 person, and categorical imperatives within my position seek to help everyone, as opposed to your position which attempts to describe morality based on whether it achieves utility for a single individual. If I thought you were worth the time I might help you understand how economists who share you position circumvent this issue, but seeing as you can't or don't want to bother reading any philosophers or external references I imagine it would go over your head.

The point, which your ad hom indicates that you missed, is that avoiding collective blunders requires a collective effort. An individual's responsibility in the modern world probably doesn't extend beyond living a life that abides by a set of virtuous categorical imperatives, and maybe their civic duty to support egalitarian causes when available. It's a little weird to me how quickly you've tried to steer this conversation into a size-measuring contest (force of habit maybe?) but if you actually want me to get into my past volunteer work tutoring low income children or my civic volunteer work with Code For America and how you can get started with volunteer work in your community, I'm happy to do so.

I don't presume to know anything about you beyond what I can infer from your words. Some of those inferences include -- you think altruism is naive, you don't understand what naivete or propaganda are but are quick to accuse others of engaging in it, and that you are dumb enough to pick a fight about ethics on a philosophy forum when you seem unwilling or unable to demonstrate any knowledge of philosophy or ethics. Did you want to try to impress me with your greatness based on the moral content of your life and your actions outside of your advocacy of parasitism in this conversation? Since your words have set such a low bar, you probably don't have much to lose here.
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Re: The Seven Blunders of The World

Post by A_Seagull » December 16th, 2018, 5:40 pm

ktz wrote:
December 16th, 2018, 5:04 pm
A_Seagull wrote:
December 16th, 2018, 3:31 pm


And what have you done to 'help everyone'? And what makes you think that what you have done is greater than what I have done.. and am doing?
I shouldn't let you bait me, since I'm going to get tired of saying this: you fail to understand what I am saying. My quote that you referenced means that, in the course of our argument, I have advocated for an philosophical basis that uses a value criterion of the general welfare to judge whether something is a blunder -- when committed at scale. You have advocated for an philosophical basis that uses a value criterion of one individual's personal benefit to judge if something is a blunder -- when committed at the individual level. By definition, my position is "greater" than your position, because everyone > 1 person, and categorical imperatives within my position seek to help everyone, as opposed to your position which attempts to describe morality based on whether it achieves utility for a single individual. If I thought you were worth the time I might help you understand how economists who share you position circumvent this issue, but seeing as you can't or don't want to bother reading any philosophers or external references I imagine it would go over your head.

The point, which your ad hom indicates that you missed, is that avoiding collective blunders requires a collective effort. An individual's responsibility in the modern world probably doesn't extend beyond living a life that abides by a set of virtuous categorical imperatives, and maybe their civic duty to support egalitarian causes when available. It's a little weird to me how quickly you've tried to steer this conversation into a size-measuring contest (force of habit maybe?) but if you actually want me to get into my past volunteer work tutoring low income children or my civic volunteer work with Code For America and how you can get started with volunteer work in your community, I'm happy to do so.

I don't presume to know anything about you beyond what I can infer from your words. Some of those inferences include -- you think altruism is naive, you don't understand what naivete or propaganda are but are quick to accuse others of engaging in it, and that you are dumb enough to pick a fight about ethics on a philosophy forum when you seem unwilling or unable to demonstrate any knowledge of philosophy or ethics. Did you want to try to impress me with your greatness based on the moral content of your life and your actions outside of your advocacy of parasitism in this conversation? Since your words have set such a low bar, you probably don't have much to lose here.
I shouldn't let you bait me, since I'm going to get tired of saying this: you fail to understand what I am saying.
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Re: The Seven Blunders of The World

Post by Greta » December 16th, 2018, 6:34 pm

You have to love the showmanship - it had to be seven.

Whatever, the verse can be roughly summarised further again as a push towards collectivism rather than individualism with particular accent on common religious values. Hence Seagull's reference to 'propaganda'; the writer is attempting to instil religious values in people.

Maybe we should update to apply to a modern world?

Wealth without work → Profit without equivalent contribution.

Pleasure without conscience → Pleasure from cruelty and exploitation.

Knowledge without character → Knowledge without understanding.

Commerce without morality → That one is perhaps eternal, a "sticky".

Science without humanity → Technology without considering environment.

Worship without sacrifice → Worship without reasoning

Politics without principle → Another "sticky".

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Re: The Seven Blunders of The World

Post by ktz » December 16th, 2018, 10:37 pm

Greta wrote:
December 16th, 2018, 6:34 pm
You have to love the showmanship - it had to be seven.

Whatever, the verse can be roughly summarised further again as a push towards collectivism rather than individualism with particular accent on common religious values. Hence Seagull's reference to 'propaganda'; the writer is attempting to instil religious values in people.
These ideas can be supported by positions on virtue, prudence, and morality taken by Aristotle, the Stoics, the Epicureans, and secular humanism. They have moral content that transcends religious character, so I don't think you are accurate in saying they are trying to instill religious values in people. Adam Smith himself provides plenty of support for some of these ideas, so I can probably make a reasonable case that they are not even unique to collectivism as opposed to individualism. I'll continue to strongly contest any pejorative invocation of propaganda as unwarranted here.
Maybe we should update to apply to a modern world?

Wealth without work → Profit without equivalent contribution.

Pleasure without conscience → Pleasure from cruelty and exploitation.

Knowledge without character → Knowledge without understanding.

Commerce without morality → That one is perhaps eternal, a "sticky".

Science without humanity → Technology without considering environment.

Worship without sacrifice → Worship without reasoning

Politics without principle → Another "sticky".
Unfortunately Gandhi's not around anymore so we can't run it past him. Part of the value of a reference is that it can invoke the character and body of work of the person who spoke it. I'm not convinced that your alterations add enough semantic value to lose the historic nature of the original.
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Re: The Seven Blunders of The World

Post by Greta » December 17th, 2018, 1:46 am

I'm aiming low - just seeking relevance, not historicity :)

You can argue to toss on a few of them but "Worship without sacrifice" unambiguously assumes and expects religious belief.

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