Plato’s reading suggestions, episode 113

Roman style orgyHere it is, our regular Friday diet of suggested readings for the weekend:

Why Oprah for President is a terrible idea. Version 1.

Why Oprah for President is a terrible idea. Version 2.

A perfect example of very clever, and so far as I can tell, totally irrelevant, philosophy.

Want to be happy? Think like an old person.

Sex parties of the tech and famous. Why Silicon Valley is very much a culture of women exploitation.

Silicon Valley’s preoccupation with AI destroying the world is a reflection of their own libertarian-informed predatory attitude.

The problem with “problematic” and the bizarre notion of subjecting unpublished novels to “sensitivity reads.”

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Please notice that the duration of the comments window is three days (including publication day), and that comments are moderated for relevance (to the post one is allegedly commenting on), redundancy (not good), and tone (constructive is what we aim for). This applies to both the suggested readings and the regular posts. Also, keep ‘em short, this is a comments section, not your own blog. Thanks!

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112 thoughts on “Plato’s reading suggestions, episode 113

  1. Philosopher Eric

    Once again on error theory, we can even deductively know that a theory which contradicts itself, is false. Error theory contradicts itself, so it must be false. Consider another example of a self contradictory statement:

    If I say as a man that all statements made by men are false, then we can deductively know that my statement was false given the contradiction therein. Conversely if I say as a woman that all statements made by men are false, then there is no intra statement contradiction. If anyone would like to argue for error theory, the first task should be to show that it’s not self contradictory, even though I believe the author even admitted that it was.

    Since thoughts about reasons for belief are normative judgements, an error theory about all normative judgements entails that there is no reason to believe anything. It therefore entails that there is no reason to believe this error theory.

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  2. Philip Thrift

    Bart Streumer’s “Unbelievable Errors: An Error Theory about All Normative Judgements” (ch. 12):

    “This chapter first describes the effects of coming close to believing the error theory. It then sketches how certain other philosophical views can also be defended by arguing that we cannot believe these views: scepticism about moral responsibility, eliminativism about propositional attitudes, scepticism about truth, and dialetheism. The chapter also explains how philosophers should modify their methodology if there can be true philosophical theories that we cannot believe.”

    Given the Oprah talk above, it’s like “You get an error! You get an error! “Everyone gets an error!”

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  3. synred

    hold false beliefs when they say there actually are such things as objective moral values and categorical imperatives.

    That would seem to be a statement about ethics, i.e., meta-ethics. Statements about ethics can be right or wrong w/o ethical claims being either.

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  4. synred

    Oprah is an elite, who hangs out with other elites, and has done things to achieve that position and maintain it. Social Position, and thus their interests, does influence one’s view of the world. People live by justifying whatever it is that they’re doing or they would give it up for the greater good. (As a meat eater, I have to admit that if meat didn’t taste so good, I probably would perceive it as much more immoral on an emotional basis than I am inclined to) Now that’s my take on it but there’s plenty of research that show the differences between the super rich and the rest of the public, not just on opinions of public policy but in terms of day to day human behavior.

    I have not argued for Oprah. I agree with your ‘rule of thumb’ about billionaires, but only as a rule of thumb.

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  5. synred

    Error theory[edit]
    Error theory is built on three principles:

    There are no moral features in this world; nothing is right or wrong.
    Therefore, no moral judgements are true; however,
    Our sincere moral judgments try, but always fail, to describe the moral features of things.
    Thus, we always lapse into error when thinking in moral terms. We are trying to state the truth when we make moral judgments. But since there is no moral truth, all of our moral claims are mistaken. Hence the error. These three principles lead to the conclusion that there is no moral knowledge. Knowledge requires truth. If there is no moral truth, there can be no moral knowledge. Thus moral values are purely chimerical.[1]

    Error theorists combine the cognitivist thesis that moral language consists of truth-apt statements with the nihilist thesis that there are no moral facts. Like moral nihilism itself, however, error theory comes in more than one form: Global falsity and Presupposition failure.

    “These men are nihilist, Donny”

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  6. Massimo Post author

    Synred,

    “There are no moral features in this world; nothing is right or wrong”

    Yeah, that’s why I don’t pay too much attention to these people. What do they even mean by that? That there no rights or wrongs to be observed with a telescope? Obviously not. Morality is a human invention. That doesn’t mean is arbitrary. Which in turn means that of course certain moral judgments are “right” or “wrong,” given a certain set of assumptions. That’s why I classed the OP under “very clever and yet useless” philosophy.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. SocraticGadfly

    Couvent, per what Robin said, yes, that strikes me as actual progress. And, i was primarily referring to countries within the EU, and of course, on “head fakes” I mentioned two in particular. Tis true that a Corsican certainly doesn’t see himself as Italian, or a Catolonian may have dual identities.

    And? It’s the same in the US indeed, at least to a degree, and most heightened in the states of the old Confederacy, and even more in Texas.

    I find nothing wrong with a certain sense of pride in regionalism; at the same time, when it also functions as a direct attack on a nation-state, and one that’s been fairly successful, whether here or there. Perhaps Canada — Quebec excepted — and Australia are better off on this.

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  8. Philip Thrift

    Richard Joyce’s claim basically is “Fictionalism can be thought of as a way of trying to rescue morality from the threat of error theory.”

    “What the cognitivist hermeneutic fictionalist evidently needs is some non-arbitrary means of restricting possible moral fictional worlds, ideally reducing the infinitude of candidates down to a single privileged fiction.”

    “Fictionalism in metaethics”
    http://personal.victoria.ac.nz/richard_joyce/acrobat/joyce_2016_fictionalism.in.metaethics.pdf

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  9. Massimo Post author

    Philip,

    I don’t think one needs to restrict the infinite candidates to one privileged “fiction.” There are several competing accounts of ethics that can be useful in the real world. And that’s what ethics is about.

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  10. SocraticGadfly

    Forgot this on my response back to Couvent. Regionalism in Europe doesn’t undercut the idea that Europe as a whole is somewhat less capitalistic than the US, cutting Russia out of Europe for this argument.

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  11. wtc48

    synred: “Before FDR all presidents were no more than 2 terms. It was a tradition established by George Washington. FDR violated and, hence, a constitution amend was passed make it a the rule. Two term presidents are still reasonable common.”

    My point was the (apparently unintended) influence of the primary system on presidential elections post-1976. Between Jackson (#7 in 1828) and Carter (#39 in 1976), 8 presidents were elected twice, against 21 who survived only one election. Since the nominations were made via popular vote in the primaries, we have had five presidents, only one (Bush Sr.) for a single term, and the last three two-terms in a row, which hasn’t happened since Jefferson/Madison/Monroe. Obviously other factors are involved, but it seems safe to say that popular nomination tends to make it more difficult to unseat an incumbent.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. couvent2104

    Socratic,

    Couvent, per what Robin said, yes, that strikes me as actual progress.

    I must confess I don’t understand what you and Robin mean.

    I can be called progress that the voice of academia is heard in the public debate. But if you look at actual progress in society, the results seem to be mixed, to put it mildly. What did decades of vocal academic feminism, all those women’s etc. studies programs do for the situation of women, transgenders etc.?

    I can only notice that there are societies where the voice of academia is subdued, and where more progress actually has been made (and I repeat that I’m not bragging – the situation is far from perfect where I live).

    I sometimes get the impression that the voice of academia in the US tends to polarize the debate, and not in a constructive way. And the influence it has, can be rather dubious at times (sensitivity censors etc.)

    When I wrote that Europe doesn’t exist, I was reacting to you remark about the “Deneuve letter”. I don’t think it expresses a typically European or even typically French reaction to #metoo. If it is anything, it is a Parisian phenomenon.

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  13. Philosopher Eric

    I quite agree with Massimo that human constructs such as our various ethical notions, can be useful tools, as he mentioned to Philip. As I’ve said these are not just in the same company as Santa Claus, but English and Mathematics. If a society mandates that stealing be shameful, then this should tend to affect behavior thusly. Morality seems to have evolved into our species to help a fundamentally selfish variety of life, form more effective societies. It seems to exist through our empathy (or ability to understand what others think/feel) and care (or our tendency to somewhat experience the punishing to rewarding sensations that we perceive in others).

    Where I go beyond all theorists that I know of, is to theorize the nature of value itself, or something that lies beyond the human construct of what’s moral. Apparently there is a vast supercomputer in our heads, and so advanced is it that it creates a tiny conscious form of computer that provides us with what we know of existence. This kind of computer doesn’t function like the ones that we’re now staring at however, but rather through punishing and rewarding sensations (which psychologists sometimes call “valence”). Apparently this stuff is all that’s valuable to anything throughout all of existence.

    Ah but if so, then why haven’t psychologists and philosophers yet been able to discover this aspect of our nature? I suspect that our morality paradigm of rightness and wrongness has been too strong a force to overcome so far. I nevertheless mean to help, and so help our soft sciences harden up, as well as develop a community of specialists in metaphysics, epistemology, and value, that has its own generally accepted understandings.

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  14. SocraticGadfly

    Couvent, per Robin, I think after the fade-out of the 60s, US academia went quiescent for a couple of decades.

    On the Deneuve … i’m not so sure. Actually, I’m sure it’s not. I did mention Italy as well as France, and that includes having seem similar comments from Italians in similar ‘creative” fields, even if they didn’t sign an open letter to a Roman, or a Milanese, newspaper.

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  15. wtc48

    Eric: “Morality seems to have evolved into our species to help a fundamentally selfish variety of life, form more effective societies. It seems to exist through our empathy (or ability to understand what others think/feel) and care (or our tendency to somewhat experience the punishing to rewarding sensations that we perceive in others).”

    Based on the timescale of biological evolution, I would rephrase that thus: “Morality seems to have been created by our species,” etc., and that we are perennially trying to live up to it, not entirely without success.

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  16. synred

    For awhile it seemed like the EU was taking the wind out of the more violent forms of ‘regionalism’. After all what does it matter whether your Ireland or Great Britain,Catalonia or Spain, if your all in the EU, can go anywhere you want, have whatever holidays you care to.

    In Bavarian you have a holiday every time a saint farts and you can have ‘ein Mass’ at lunch and sell BMW’s to the French and Italians. What more could you want?

    And if your health fails, there’s always ‘dritte klasse’ if all else fails.

    Still Brexit may spoil the party…

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  17. synred

    Carter, Ford, JFK (for different reasons, but his odds did not look too good) all were one term too in addition to Poppy.The stats on the change are marginal.

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  18. synred

    I can be called progress that the voice of academia is heard in the public debate. But if you look at actual progress in society, the results seem to be mixed, to put it mildly. What did decades of vocal academic feminism, all those women’s etc. studies programs do for the situation of women, transgenders etc.?

    Did you notice gay marriage is legal everywhere (in the US) and transgender can you the public facilities of their choice in most states and those where they can’t are in trouble even with big business and the bloody NFL.

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  19. synred

    Seduction and attack are different. I don’t think Casanova was ever accused of feeling up women against their will [a]. The point was to make them want to …

    [a] I don’t really know though…

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