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Thomas Paine

To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

5 February - Blogs I'm Following

Attack Iran? Nuclear Insanity by Felicity Arbuthnot

Outside ‘Armed Entity’ Now Operating Inside Syria

“armed opposition groups” including the Syria Free Army are involved in criminal and terrorist acts.

“In some zones, this armed entity reacted by attacking Syrian security forces and citizens, causing the Government to respond with further violence. In the end, innocent citizens pay the price for those actions with life and limb.


The Betrayal of the Nobel Peace Prize

Everyone who took the prize, right up through 1913, had at least worked for peace and against war.  During World War One, no prizes were awarded.  And then came 1919 and a laureate remarkably similar to that of 2009.

In 1919, a prize for peace went to Woodrow Wilson who had needlessly dragged his own nation into the worst war yet seen; who had developed innovative war propaganda techniques, conscription techniques, and tools for suppressing dissent; who had used the U.S. military to brutal effect in the Caribbean and Latin America; who had agreed to a war-promoting settlement to the Great War; but who had promoted a league of nations and on whom were projected the fantasies of peace-loving but character-lacking people around the world.
From that moment to this, the Nobel peace prize has been heavily, but by no means entirely, dominated by elected officials. 

How Do Conservatives and Liberals See the World?

 From the comment thread


 Does your loyalty to a group mean more to you than truth?
In Haidt's world of conservatism that is a very highly desirable and valuable attribute.
Tribal loyalty ranks very highly. And we can see it in almost every example of conservative thinking today. It has a communitarian aspect to it that I find frightening. I also find Haidt a justificationist for hypocrisy when he says we are all hypocrites. Frankly I think that's crap. I for one, always look for it in my own positions, and I certainly am capable of spotting it in others. If I find it in myself, I'm capable of rooting it out since I find it a detestable trait. I wonder if a conservative can say the same thing. From what I see the simply look for ways to justify their hypocrisy.I think Mr Haidt is what I'd call an Identity Philosopher.

Identity philosophers,  may say that ‘truth’ is meaningful and that it means correspondence to the facts. They may even acknowledge the existence of foolproof criteria by which to determine whether or not a statement is true. But they believe, and this is what makes them identity philosophers, that they owe their primary allegiance to some group to which they belong. The thrust of their attack against truth is not that we cannot know what is true. It is that truth is but one value amongst many, and not the one that counts most for building a just society. They believe that when it comes to a choice between truth and solidarity, it is solidarity that counts—so that we are not merely justified in misrepresenting
the truth, but that it may actually be our duty to do so if the solidarity of our community hangs in the balance. It seems to me that three things are necessary to any rational discussion.
1.The principle of fallibility: perhaps I am wrong and perhaps you are right. But we could easily both be wrong.
2.The principle of rational discussion: we want to try, as impersonally as possible, to weigh up our reasons for and against a theory: a theory that is definite and criticizable.
3.The principle of approximation to the truth: we can nearly always come closer to the truth in a discussion which avoids personal attacks.
It can help us to achieve a better understanding; even in those cases where we do not reach an agreement.

Try conducting a debate or even a conversation with a conservative using this approach and you'll likely find resistence to this. The problem of course is that it opens the possibility that they might be wrong about something. Somebody once said that the difference between a Conservative and a Liberal is the Conservative knows that he's right. A Liberal knows that he could be wrong. I'm fallible. I know that I could be wrong about a lot of things. I'm not promoting an ideology here. I ask the conservative to demonstrate to me, what makes HIS views true. If he can't do that, why should I accept it? How do they defend their ideology? What is it based on? You press them on this and they'll fall into the delemma of infinite regress vs. their own dogma. Eventually they end up using circular reasoning to justify themselves. "I'm right... because conservative principles are right." But based on what?? Then of course they usually call you a name, and claim that you're a socialist or a traitor.  I think Mr Haidt could have saved a lot of money and time on his research by simply recognizing that loyalty to the group-think of the tribe has nothing to do with a desire to find the truth of things. Which is more important to you? Your tribal loyalty...or Truth? I would have liked to see that among the questions in the survey-test. I might have helped to sort out the ideologue from those interested in truth. It seems to me that a liberal is more identified by what he isn't, than by what he claims to be which is the conservative position. It's a "positive methodology" and those never seem to work. Based on what I saw in that interview, Bill could interview most of the people on this comments column and arrive at a more interesting view of the differences between the ideology of conservatism and the philosophy of liberalism. I have to say that I've been really impressed with all the comments here. Bill has a pretty sophisticated audience. 

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