A_Seagull wrote: ↑December 13th, 2018, 5:44 pmSeems to me that to label these as 'blunders' is nothing more than naïve propaganda. It certainly isn't philosophy.
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.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.
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.