Against The Four: Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google

Amazon Apple Facebook Google“The Four” are the giant tech companies Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google. You can read all about why they are a problem in Scott Galloway’s informative book, The Four: The Hidden Dna of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google. Galloway is a Professor at NYU’s Stern School of Business, where he teaches brand strategy and digital marketing. He is also the founder of several firms including L2, Red Envelope, and Prophet. In 2012, he was named “one of the world’s 50 best business school professors” (no, this isn’t an oxymoron) by Poets & Quants. Moreover, he has served on the boards of Eddie Bauer, The New York Times Company, Gateway Computer, and Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. In other words, this is someone who knows a lot about corporate culture, and not at all a left wing moralist such as myself.

(If you don’t have time to read the book, look at these two articles that turned me onto it, in Wired magazine, and over at the BBC.)

In a nutshell, the problem with The Four is that they simply have far too much power in our lives, both in terms of the information they store about us (and how they use it), and of their financial muscle, which of course easily turns into political influence. From the BBC article:

“The four most important tech companies aren’t even just tech companies anymore. They each have embedded themselves in our lives, hugely influencing us by playing to our basic human instincts: from the eternal human search for answers to our need for love. … [Galloway] also says that the companies’ deep pockets and massive customer base are what allow the companies to start competing in different sectors and industries – like how Amazon is now producing original TV content, or how Facebook has more or less emerged as a news media platform. That has prompted scepticism and warnings from critics at places like the New York Times and Bloomberg.”

And that was before Amazon bought Whole Foods, for instance. You can dig into the details yourself, no point for me to repeat here easily found material. My objection to The Four is ethical: I am generally skeptical of any concentration of power, especially in the private sector (but not only: governments are a little better to the extent that they really are accountable to their people by means of a not too dysfunctional democracy. The US Government does not, at this point, qualify, for instance). But I also recognize that these and other tech companies have made possible a wonderful number of things, including, of course, this very blog (which in its initial incarnation, Rationally Speaking, was hosted by Google, with essays that were for many years written on a MacBook or an iPad, and are still broadcasted via Facebook).

Moreover, I am certainly not an anti-technologist. On the contrary, until recently I was a very early adopter of new technologies. I bought the first iPhone, and then an iPad (and then an iPad Pro, which replaced my laptop), signed up on Facebook very early on, have used Amazon for many years, and have a very very long browser history with Google.

And before you accuse me of naivete, I am perfectly aware that The Four aren’t the only giant tech companies to be wary of (add Twitter, Verizon, Samsung, just for starters), and the list gets far longer when one moves to large corporations in general. Ultimately, I think the only reasonable and effective way to curb corporate power is by legislation, along the model of the famous breakup of Bell back in 1982. As a society, we want innovation, and we certainly want private entities to benefit from their work. But innovation needs competition, not near monopolies, and benefiting from one’s work does not equate creating a very small class of ultra-billionaires who exploit their workers (like Amazon certainly does), including in other countries (like Apple equally certainly does).

But while we are waiting for governments to take action (more likely in Europe than in the US, at the moment — see Galloway’s take here), it doesn’t mean we have to be complicit enablers. I try to practice what in philosophy is called virtue ethics, which means that my first focus is on improving my own character, which in turn requires acting as virtuously (in the Greco-Roman, not the Christian sense) as possible. It follows, it seems to me, that I need to extricate myself as much as possible from The Four, as an initial step.

And that’s where I discovered two interesting things, which are the main objects of this post. First, it is much harder than one might at first imagine. Second, you are unlikely to get a lot of support even from friends and family, who might even exhibit hostility to your intentions. Let me explain.

They are called The Four for a reason. They are everywhere, and next to impossible to avoid, unless you are willing to completely disengage from the Internet. In the postscript, I detail the steps I have taken so far, in case anyone else wishes to try it. You can thank me later for having saved you endless hours of web searching (using DuckDuckGo, of course…).

Apple was actually the easiest to get rid of. Because their ecosystem is so tight and positively discourages any contact with the outside, once you decide to get out of it, you pretty much have to go the whole nine yards. This pained me, because I have been an Apple fan ever since I ditched Microsoft because of the poor quality of their products, back in 2004. But just a couple of weeks later, I hardly miss my iPad and iPhone, and I most certainly don’t miss the Watch, one of the most intrusive gadgets ever made.

Next was Amazon. The big steps here were to stop shopping on their online store (easy, plenty of alternatives), to replace the Kindle with one of several other high quality e-book readers, and to begin to direct readers of my own books to either publishers’ web sites or other e-book stores. of course, the bulk of my collection of books is on Amazon, but I’ll eventually get it back by way of available software that decrypts the files and turns them into the popular epub format. I still watch Amazon videos, because they are good and not available elsewhere. Before you accuse me of hypocrisy, however, keep in mind that the goal is to minimize my footprint on The Four, so to speak, not to eliminate them from my life altogether. It’s an incremental project, not a revolution.

Which brings me to Google. In a sense, I actually increased my use of their products, since now my office suite is the Google one, replacing Apple’s iWorks. But it is a temporary transition dictated by limited time available to search for long term suitable alternatives, and by the need not to disrupt several ongoing collaborative works. And at any rate, I hit Google where it hurts, their web search engine, which produces their advertisement revenues and is of course highly invasive of our privacy. DuckDuckGo does an excellent replacement job.

Finally, Facebook. This was the hardest, again unless I was willing to forgo keeping in touch with (real) friends and family, and also to give up my outreach presence (my “official” philosophy page, my participation to the largest online Stoic community, and a few other things). What I did was to get rid of their obnoxious Messenger app, as well as “unlike” and “unfollow” a crapload of pages that were, of course, generating lots of targeted advertisements. I am now using Facebook with a very small and tightly guarded circle of actual friends and family, as well as for the above mentioned outreach, nothing else.

So the bottom line of the first point is that this exercise showed me very clearly just how dependent our lives have become from The Four. Perhaps this should not have been surprising, but experiencing the full measure of it in such a short period was eye opening. The other thing that was eye opening relates the second point: the comparative lack of support, and occasionally more or less overt hostility, I got from friends and family (and, I’m sure, from some readers, now that I’ve put this out).

When I explained what I was doing and why, a good number of people were puzzled, and began immediately to mount arguments against my enterprise. “It’s useless.” “You won’t succeed” “It’s going to cost you a lot of money and time.” “What do you have against corporations?” “Are you a Luddite?” “Why do you hate America?” Okay, I made up the last one, but the others have been thrown at me fast and furious during the past few weeks.

So I patiently explained: no, I’m not a Luddite; on the contrary, I’ve always been an early user of especially electronic technology. No, it isn’t really that expensive (as I’m sure everyone knows, Apple alternatives in terms of phones and tablets are incredibly cheap by comparison). Yes, it took me some time, but I was helped by others who have similar objections and have done much of the legwork for me, and at any rate, it’s an ethical decision, it would be a bit too easy if it didn’t cost me money or time or effort.

My attitude toward corporations is the one already explained above. I am perfectly aware that if it weren’t Apple it would be someone else, but that’s not an argument about disinvesting from Apple. It’s the social activism equivalent of what in biology is called frequency dependent selection: you go for the rare phenotype, which eventually becomes the dominant, at which point you switch to the new rare, and so on.

In terms of success and utility, it depends on what one’s goal is. I am perfectly aware that Apple, Google and the others are not going to feel the pinch of my decisions. But from a virtue ethical perspective that’s not the objective: I just don’t want to be personally co-responsible for what they are doing. Moreover — and that’s why I’m writing this post and promoting Galloway’s book — if enough others do the same, the damage will be greater and greater, and it might bring about change.

Also, again in terms of success, as I said above my goal was never to completely disengage from The Four, only to distance myself from them. Many years ago I read Peter Singer’s How Are We to Live?: Ethics in an Age of Self-Interest, and it changed my life. No, I did not become a utilitarian like Singer, but I was struck by one of the first things he says in that book: don’t try to do everything at once, you will be overwhelmed, get discouraged, and fail. Instead, decide what your ethical priorities are, and then make some small but concrete steps in that direction. I discussed How Are We to Live? at a book club I founded in Knoxville, TN, and my wife at the time and I were talking about it on our way back home. We decided to follow Peter’s advice: we sold our house in the suburbs and moved downtown, near the bus lines and where we could bicycle to work; we also sold one of our two cars. Our life improved as a result, our carbon footprint went down, and we felt good about the decision. The current anti-Four action is along similar lines: I’m doing something, not everything, because I can do the former, but not the latter.

I thought my explanations were reasonable and cogent. One may still disagree, and indeed one may even agree with my take and still not act in a similar fashion, for all sorts of reasons. But my arguments hardly made I dent. Some people seemed not just to disagree with me, but to positively resent my chosen course of action. What was going on?

Then it hit me. It’s the same reaction I got when I stopped eating meat, and that my partner gets every time people find out she is a vegetarian. The same objections are immediately raised: it’s useless; it’s difficult; what’s wrong with the meat industry?; are you an environmental nuts?; do you feel somehow superior to the rest of?; why do you hate America??

It’s the next to the last one that should give you the clue. At least in my judgment, a lot of people who are not vegetarian recognize, at some level, that vegetarians have by far the better argument: no matter how you look at the issue — in terms of animal suffering, environmental degradation, treatment of labor, or even pure and simple self interest when it comes to health — vegetarianism is better. But it’s harder, too. Stakes are delicious; burgers are delightful; and everyone eats them, so it’s easier to just go along with the habit. But when you meet someone who is bucking the trend, and you are dimly aware that she has made the right choice and you haven’t, resentment kicks in. She simply must be mistaken, and you begin to rattle out a number of more or less incoherent “arguments” for why that is “obviously” the case.

I think something similar has been going on with my anti-Four strategy over the past few weeks. A number of my friends and family realize that I’m onto something (and Galloway’s book gives me plenty of well researched ammunitions, as well as the comfort to know that there are others who think and act the same). But it’s too hard, or expensive, or just inconvenient for them to follow suit. So I must be wrong. And once you know someone is wrong then you immediately begin to search for all the flaws in their reasoning, while ignoring the big ones in your own. It’s a well known cognitive fallacy.

Be that as it may. My conscience feels slightly better, in the same way and measure in which similar small decisions (to not eat meat, to try to shop locally, to voluntarily pay carbon footprint offsets when I travel by air, to change bank because my old one was a giant corporate monster, and so forth) have made me feel better. Is this going to change the world? Of course not. But what are you doing to help, right now?

_____

Postscript: Massimo’s (ongoing) anti-Four plan. Each item lists a service or product offered by Amazon, Apple, Facebook or Google, followed by a suitable, or at least less objectionable, alternative. All of these have already been implemented, it took about a week to switch completely. Remember, the goal is not perfection, just progress. Readers’ suggestions for further improvements are welcome.

Amazon > myriad alternative online retailers, obviously

Amazon Kindle > Nook, Kobo, Sony, etc.

(My) Amazon books > wherever possible I changed links to direct readers to the publishers themselves instead of the A-store

Amazon Video > Hulu, Netflix, though I still use some Amazon Video because some of their productions are unique and good

Apple’s iPad > any Android tablet (even though Android is Google, each manufacturer uses it differently, and the platform is more open than Apple’s)

Apple’s iPhone > any Android phone, except Google’s own, obviously

Apple’s Watch > back to analogical (and more stylish!)

Apple’s TV > back to simple smart TV native apps

Apple’s Music > Pandora, Spotify, or similar

Apple’s Mail > Aqua Mail (which does not track your search history), or any of a number of alternative third party clients

Apple’s office productivity (iWorks) > Google office, as first step, then independent systems, ideally open source

Apple’s Safari browser > Firefox (which does not track your history), Google Chrome not acceptable

Facebook > un-liked most pages, tightened security, limited who can ask me for “friendship”

Facebook Messenger > eliminated in favor of simple sms, or third-party apps

Google search > DuckDuckGo (which does not track your search history)

Google navigator > this is a tough one (particularly since Apple Maps is neither acceptable for this project, nor good, really), though for instance CityMappers works very well for major cities

151 thoughts on “Against The Four: Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google

  1. Massimo Post author

    Bunsen,

    Of course there are facts of the matter, those concerning the behavior of certain corporate entities. The ethical judgment is not a fact, it’s a judgment. But it can be, and has been, defended with arguments.

    Nobody is portraying The Four as cartoonish villains. I have a lot of respect for those companies, whose products I have used for a long time.

    And we are definitely aware that there are no sharp boundaries. But that observation can easily turn into a lazy excuse for not doing anything at all.

    Like

  2. Massimo Post author

    Bunsen,

    “No one is forcing you to own a smartphone. I don’t own one. However, that was never a moral decision and I don’t believe it somehow makes me a more virtuous person”

    You really have a fixation with this. It’s rather unhealthy. From a virtue ethical perspective almost every decision you make has an ethical component, that you recognize it or not.

    As for not having to own a smart phone, obviously that’s an option. But it too comes with tradeoffs. My work, including my outreach, is such that I need a smartphone. So I go for what I think is the lesser evil.

    Like

  3. Daniel Kaufman

    Massimo wrote:

    From a virtue ethical perspective almost every decision you make has an ethical component, that you recognize it or not.

    = = =

    This is what I just can’t go with. I addressed it directly not too long ago, in a piece devoted to what I call the “morality everywhere” problem.

    https://theelectricagora.com/2017/09/02/morality-everywhere/

    Dan T. also wrote on the same subject from a slightly different direction.

    https://theelectricagora.com/2017/10/04/the-scope-of-morality/

    And we did a dialogue on it.

    http://meaningoflife.tv/videos/39211

    = = =

    At the heart of the critique are several core points: (1) that it makes perfect sense to speak of things that have no moral valence whatsoever — like tying my shoes or washing my left foot before my right one — so it cannot be the case that every decision — or even “virtually every decision” — has an ethical component; (2) moral badness, at some level, has to be thought of as a deviation from a norm, so it has to be relatively rare; (3) that to say that something is a moral issue is to say that it has significance and too many things can’t be significant and also retain the quality that ‘significant’ denotes.

    But while I’m pretty sure I’m on the right track, if by ‘moral’ one means something that belongs to the modern moral philosophical tradition, I’m not sure whether the critique applies to a virtue theoretical sense of the moral or at least, whether it applies as strongly. It seems to me that some version of it will still apply.

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  4. SocraticGadfly

    To tie another loop back to Bunsen — the new level of cutthroat capitalism these companies exemplify has larger economic ripples, including income inequality in general, that in turn ties in some cases to homelessness. Not all homeless are unemployed, among other things. The paragon modern capitalism cities — London, San Francisco, New York — all have problems with employed-person homelessness.

    Like

  5. brodix

    Wtc,

    Unfortunately there is considerable evidence of the opposite. “War is a racket.”
    Not to mention all the bribery funneled to those most willing to sell out their people. Often nationalism is used to insult those trying to defend their sense of community.

    The problem I find with most form of protest is the extent to which the system has become immunized to it and giving employment to those attacking protest, from police and security companies, the irs, etc. That’s one of the main reasons I’ve spent much of my mental time, while doing menial labor, studying the ideas and impulses governing society. From the concept of a top down deity giving credence to top down government, to money as personal property, rather than an economic medium and social contract.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. SocraticGadfly

    Given that, on things like “psychological determinism,” I’ve noted that life is usually a continuum not two polarities, one can accept that many life decisions have some more import while at the same time stating they don’t all have equal import. (And, it should be noted Massimo said “almost every,” Dan; I’m sure that he, too, doesn’t think shoe-tying is a moral issue. One could apply a classic informal fallacy definition here, but Massimo said those semi-don’t exist.)

    To illustrate, drinking fair-harvest coffee may not be AS moral as offering roadside assistance at the scene of an accident rather than driving on. But, it is of moral importance. And, to add a dash of Singer here, maybe it’s of MORE moral importance. If I saved three Nicaraguan families from losing their land, vs. minor assistance at a non-serious accident?

    And, if I understand the spirit of virtue ethics, it, more than either utilitarianism or deontological ethics, is about creating a stronger “mental moral framework.” (Massimo, feel free to use the phrase.) It requires conscientious moral cogitation in a way that “weighing things in a utilitarian balance” or “god/abstract law said so” does.

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  7. Daniel Kaufman

    Socratic: there is no fallacy, informal or otherwise. Nor is there any kind of cheap, quick way to dismiss the points I am raising.

    “Almost always” is just as false, once one meditates for a moment on just how many things one does a day of the sort I gave an example of. Not only is it not credible to suggest that almost all the things we do have a moral valence. The truth very likely is that a sizable majority of the things we do have no moral valence whatsoever. Which is what one would expect given the other points I raised about rareness and significance.

    Now certainly, mundane things that once were thought to have no moral valence are now seen as morally significant. But the question then arises as to the process and criteria by which this expansion occurs. Dan T. talks about this at some length, both in his essay and his dialogue.

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  8. Robin Herbert

    Bunsen Burner

    Not really. No one is forcing you to own a smartphone.

    I guess I could find another job, but I’m not sure I am qualified for anything else.

    I too used Linux since it’s inception, but I praised it for technical reasons, not moral ones.

    Same with me, I was giving an example to show that small steps are not necessarily useless.

    Do you really find it comfortable to tell people you’re a better person because you use Firefox rather than Chrome?

    As I have already said, I don’t think any of this makes me a better person. Hopefully I won’t have to say that again.

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  9. Robin Herbert

    I don’t think that anyone here is saying that every decision or virtually every decision has an ethical component, so I don’t think that critique applies.

    But I don’t think that a decision that can be right or wrong from my point of view has to be significant. If buying a cup of coffee and a cake on the way home wouldn’t leave me enough money to give the kids a treat when I get home I would be somewhat selfish to get that coffee and cake. I might get it anyway, because the kids never ask why I don’t have enough money, so I don’t get busted being selfish.

    But I would feel it was selfish and usually will forgo the coffee and cake to give the kids a treat. That is not significant at all, but I will normally think of saving the money to give the kids a treat as the “right” thing to do and being selfish as the “wrong” thing to do.

    That does not mean that I think that someone who would have the coffee and cake was bad. I don’t do it in order to feel that I am superior to others. After all I am spending money on a treat for my kids rather than sending it overseas to stop kids dying, so I can’t think of it being good in any big and thick sense.

    I don’t think that being a little selfish is any kind of deviation from the norm or rare in any way, but I don’t see why those things should be part of my decision process about whether or not to have the coffee and cake. In fact I don’t think that the wrong thing is necessarily the deviation from the norm.

    I don’t think that there are any sorts of rules you can apply to these kinds of decisions.

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  10. brodix

    Robin,

    The basic function of the mind is to make distinctions and judge between them, including when a decision is necessary.
    Then it becomes natural to project. It takes real effort to distinguish between what we reasonably know and what we have come to believe. Especially when there are a lot of emotional attachments to those beliefs.

    Like

  11. Massimo Post author

    Dan,

    I’m a bit surprised by your comments after all these years and conversations. To begin with, again, I’m speaking from a virtue ethical perspective. Since “ethics,” in that sense, means much more than just the adjudication of right and wrong, but includes all our social interactions, then yes, pretty much everything we do has an ethical dimension (right, except for tying one’s shoelaces and such).

    This strikes me as entirely uncontoversial — once we know I’m talking from the VE perspective — and also has having nothing whatosever to do with moralizing. One of the cardinal precepts of Stoicism, for instance, is that you dont’ go around telling other people what they are doing wrong (for that we had the Cynics!). Stoicism, like VE in general, is focused on one’s character, because my own actions and judgments are under my control, not those of other people.

    The only way I, as a practitioner of VE, can influence other people is through teaching and writing, and by example. But that’s only if other people ask. So I agree with you that the modern (shall we say, neo-Kantian?) tendency to moralize everything and everywhere is pernicious and not particularly useful. But that’s nothing at all like what I’m trying to do here, and I’m sorry if there was some misunderstanding on this point.

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  12. Daniel Kaufman

    No misunderstanding, Massimo! I’m still working through what I think the implications are for virtue ethics, and I do think there are some. Not as strong as for modern moral philosophies, of course. How strong, I’m not sure yet.

    And as I said earlier, my critique is not Bunsen’s. I linked to the various essays and dialogue because they are the places where I’ve been working on this problem, not because they apply specifically to your essay here.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Bunsen Burner

    leonids

    No.What I am suggesting is that a lot people are pretending that their actions actuality matter when they say that they are concerned about corporate control of their lives.

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  14. Bunsen Burner

    Robin:

    I actually find it strange that we don’t seem to disagree on that much. I suspect that if I met you in a pub we would end up incredibly happy screaming at all the young kinds to get off our lawns. I do hope we get this opportunity next time I visit the Andipodean continent.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Bunsen Burner

    Just in case people are confused by my bringing Dan and the electric agora into this conversation. I do realise that our viewpoints are very different; however, I have found the the treatment of ethical perspectives there to be very helpful in forming my own opinions. I would seriously advise everyone interested in these issues to look into the reading materials provided.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. SocraticGadfly

    Actually, given climate change, running AC at 72 instead of 74 has moral valence. For me for sure … and see below for the rest …

    Liking Italian sodas, but refusing to buy San Pellegrino brand any more because it’s owned by Nestle, has moral valence. For me for sure … and see below for the rest …

    I think it’s in part a question of whether, and where, people want to look for moral valence in life. At least for me.

    Otherwise, per Massimo’s follow-ups, that’s where I’m at. Maybe that’s kind of where Massimo’s follow-up is coming from.

    The “for me,” is like Massimo, though, trying to encourage others to make it “for you,” too.

    By being concerned about global warming/climate change, and telling you it’s going to get worse, sooner, than more moderate projections claim, if I can get you to raise “you” (Generic, though hopefully Dan personally if he doesn’t) to raise your AC to 74, I might then get you to thinking about supporting a carbon tax.

    Or to stop buying Nestle products in general because of its privatization of water.

    Or refusing to buy from Amazon not just because of its data hoggery but it has yet to stop being an NRA partner.

    To riff on Massimo, if I, and he, and others, can not make “nearly everything moral,” but yes, make more things moral than most people see them as today. that’s the end line.

    Like

  17. SocraticGadfly

    Here’s another way to phrase it, per my “turn the AC up to 74” or “buy shade-grown, fair-trade coffee.”

    Individually, the acts may not have a lot of moral POWER, even though I see them as definitely moral in their end games and want others to do so as well.

    It’s like the quote that Martin Luther King made famous (though apparently not his original idea; but he tightened the verbiage), but that needs to be riffed upon.

    The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.

    It’s not guaranteed to bend toward justice. I see no divinity leading people toward that, nor, of course, any deontological signs as to what the justice is.

    Virtue ethics is a “Come, let us reason together,” but, on non-utilitarian reasoning grounds. We can make that arc bend, but it is not an individual task.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. SocraticGadfly

    That said, as I think out loud with multiple comments, some of this is why my moral calculus still has a fair amount of utilitarian leaven in the virtue ethics loaf. In the real world, both time and money are limited.

    Let’s take the money side — it might be nice to have a PC where all components, if not from the US (UK, Australia, etc. for other readers) are all from countries with advanced labor and environmental laws.

    But, how many people who desire that would pay double the price? It’s tough enough getting people to pay more for ethical coffee.

    Or to be less capitalist, in the US, and buy less shit in general, but that’s a whole nother issue.

    Like

  19. SocraticGadfly

    Ok, riffing on last Friday’s weekly links, and the one about art censorship? Facebook’s weird (especially for non-American developed nations) fixation with boobies is a problem all of its own. I mean, the Venus of Willendorf? https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/venus-of-willendorf-nudity-censorship-facebook?utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=atlas-page

    Of course, the problem with THAT gets back to capitalism. Most of FB’s screeners for content are in places like the Philippines, because nobody in the US would look at the real crap pix that a lot of people put on FB for the price that FB wants to pay people to do that in America.

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  20. Daniel Kaufman

    Socratic: I appreciate the suggestions. I’m afraid that 74 degrees ain’t happening in this house. My wife and daughter would stage a revolution, as they always feel too hot. My wife also suffers from hot flashes.

    Also not giving up San Pellegrino. It’s one of my favorite sparking waters.

    Aside from the itemization of imperatives, I don’t see any kind of argument, I’m afraid. Certainly nothing that gets at the points regarding significance and specialness. No one denies that one can multiply duties and virtues as much as one likes. The point is the effect of doing so, which I have argued is fundamentally undermining.

    Look, I am a moral anti-realist, so all the arguments I’ve been making are essentially to do with the grammar of moral discourse, in the Wittgensteinian sense. There is an level of expansion of duties and virtues that in my view begins to violate the rules of the morality language game.

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  21. leonids

    Bunsen,

    “No.What I am suggesting is that a lot people are pretending that their actions actuality matter when they say that they are concerned about corporate control of their lives.”

    Do you suggest anyone involved in this discussion is “pretending”? I’ve read every post in this discussion. I haven’t found anyone “pretending” anything. On the contrary, I’ve found commenters making compelling arguments, in good faith, that personal actions matter, from a virtue ethical perspective, and compelling arguments that if enough others are inspired to follow suit, personal action can lead to change. Perhaps you are referring to people who aren’t commenting on this blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. brodix

    The basic biological binary is good versus bad, so what presents itself as bottom up, felt emotion and top down judgmental morality runs throughout our decision making process.

    We are not machines, where it is on/off.

    Like

  23. brodix

    Though emotion, being bottom up, runs toward energy and expression as good, while morality, being top down, tends toward order and control as good.

    Like

  24. SocraticGadfly

    Dan, you choose not to see any type of argument, especially if you don’t see “specialness” in something like trashing the entire planet’s climate. To further riff on Isaiah, I don’t try to reason forever where and when it’s a waste of time.

    Massimo is also a moral anti-realist, as you know, as he’s said so here. I’m a semi-anti-realist. Being a moral anti-realist is irrelevant here, other than the issue of language, and you choosing to make your division of where the word “moral” falls …

    And others disagreeing.

    IF one wants to fully go down that road, and also be a moral anti-realist, every person in the universe can hive off by one’s moral self. If one takes it far enough, we can introduce Mr. Wittgenstein to Mr. Hobbes.

    That said, this is why I’m only a semi-anti-realist. Per the evolutionary development of human nature, I think we can find some moral values partially influenced by our human backgrounds.

    And, as for Mr. Wittgenstein meeting Mr. Hobbes? Based on the paragraph above, homey can either not play that game, or else play it in deliberately contrarian way, usually based on Cynic ideas.

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