Anyone who has no spiritual aspirations is an idiot
"Of course, it mattered little to me whether he really followed 'the true way' or not; or whether he would ever reach heaven. What I feared was the harm he might cause me if he decided to change his ways. It was simply self-interest that prompted my remark.
     I said again: 'Anyone who has no spiritual aspirations is an idiot.' I watched [him] closely. I wanted to see how my words were affecting him.
     'An idiot...' he said at last. 'Yes, I'm an idiot.'
     ... I was suddenly frightened that, in desperation, [he] had decided to accept the fact that he was an idiot. I was as demoralized as a man who finds that his opponent, whom he has just knocked down, is about to sppring up with a new weapon in hand." page 215, Kokoro (Soseki)
I'm not sure what this whole discussion of the definition of liberalism (and thus conservativism) is suppose to accomplish... Your team wears red and my team wears blue. Who cares!

What really matters is who is right.

UPDATE: We're losing our best minds to this meaningless debate. Steve, take your own advise: "Tell me about social policy, not conspiracies."
  tolerance of action or thought?
Hunt Stilwell says that "the first principle of contemporary liberalism is, or at least should be, that a liberal abhors, and fights against, all forms of cruelty." He explains that "this view of liberalism, and liberal world-view, determines when I think 'tolerance' is in order, and when I do not. First, I cannot be intolerant of someone based on race, religion, philosophy, etc. Among other things, this means that I cannot be intolerant of conservatism, simply because it is a different philosophy."

I agree, but a clarification needs to be made. Are liberals intolerant of cruel actions AND thoughts? It seems that this is a vital distinction. Actions kill, thoughts don't.

Hunt seems to bleed the two together. "I cannot tolerate conservative discrimination against gays and lesbians, racial minorities, religious minorities, the poor, or immigrants." Is this discriminatory action (e.g. exclusion from a golf club) or just the idea that these folks should be discriminated against in one way or another?

On another tangent, who decides who gets put on that list with gays and the poor? The poor belong, but who is poor (what is the poverty line and should we consider relative or absolute poverty?). Pedophiles don't belong on the list because its clear who are children and who aren't, right? (You know, folks that have been walking around here for 568,036,800 seconds aren't children... its so obvious.)

You can imagine a spectrum of people that consider themselves liberal that have vastly different ideas about these points. Which makes me think that the definition has limited use. The liberal/conservative dichotomy has always had limited explanatory power. Why not break the world up into a more useful dichotomy?

Thinking versus unthinking people.
  Brad is sane?
Wow, just when you thought you could pigeon-hole someone they go and prove not to be pigeons... BTW, here's a history of the expression 'pigeon hole'.

We all hold a sense of The OTHER. The cultural (and physical) distance between people determines the degree of OTHER-ness. For most folks, their biases make this a positive correlation (the more distance the more OTHER other people become). For example, you certainly don't think of your family as the OTHER. Friends are a little more distant but you still know well how they tick. People from the same town as you are familiar, but you keep them at arms length. Nevertheless, you're happy to meet someone from your hometown when you're in a distant or foreign city... And so familiarity drops as distance grows and at some point, at some cultural distance, people become OTHER.

It seems odd that some people would have a negative correlation between distance and OTHER-ness. To them, the OTHER is the enemy within.
  Political theory
Thomas Pogge, “An Egalitarian Law of Peoples”, Philosophy and Public Affairs (1994).
G.A. Cohen, “Where the Action Is” , Philosophy and Public Affairs (1997).
Michael Ridge, “Hobbesian Public Reason”, Ethics (1998).
Elizabeth Anderson, “What is the point of equality?” Ethics (1999).
David Schmidtz, “How to Deserve”, Political Theory (2002).
  the weak noise of her eyes easily files my impatience to an edge
my girl's tall with hard long eyes
as she stands, with her long hard hands keeping
silence on her dress, good for sleeping
is her long hard body filled with surprise
like a white shocking wire, when she smiles
a hard long smile it sometimes makes
gaily go clean through me tickling aches,
and the weak noise of her eyes easily files
my impatience to an edge--my girl's tall
and taut, with thin legs just like a vine
that's spent all of its life on a garden-wall,
and is going to die. When we grimly go to bed
with these legs she begins to heave and twine
about me, and to kiss my face and head.

 Tyler adds his thoughts…

Here are Brad DeLong's picks for such a class. I'll add Derek Parfit to the list, and maybe Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Rousseau, in his Second Discourse, questioned the identification of wealth with welfare. Instead he saw market society as leading individuals into "approbational traps," whereby they seek more approval but find themselves on a fruitless treadmill in this regard. Parfit asks whether utilitarianism (or consequentialism more generally) can ever dovetail with common sense intuitive morality. I also would have them read McCloskey on economic rhetoric, to better understand the nature of economic argumentation. Then you could add Thomas Schelling on multiple selves, to illustrate the complexities of individual choice; Parfit chips in on this topic as well. If I taught the class for twenty-five weeks, I would consider using Plato's Republic, which pretty much contains every argument ever made since.

Hey, I taught that class two years ago...!

[Marginal Revolution]


This seems useful… 

A plea from an undergrad: will Berkeley ever teach an undergraduate "Economics and Philosophy" class? I can see which way this is going: I'm going to wind up running a reading course. What should be on an "Economics and Philosophy" reading list?

  • Jacques Le Goff, Your Money or Your Life: Economy and Religion in the Middle Ages.
  • Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, selections.
  • John Locke, Second Treatise of Government.
  • Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments.
  • Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations.
  • Jeremy Bentham, Principles of Morals and Legislation.
  • John Stuart Mill, On Liberty.
  • Hal Varian, Intermediate Microeconomics (chs. 29-35).
  • Friedrich Hayek, The Constitution of Liberty.
  • Robert Nozick, Anarchy, State, and Utopia.
  • James Buchanan and Gordon Tullock, The Calculus of Consent.
  • John Rawls, "Justice as Fairness."
  • Kenneth Arrow, Social Choice and Individual Values.
  • Amartya Sen, Development as Freedom.
  • David Gauthier, “The Social Contract as Ideology”, Philosophy and Public Affairs.
  • Jon Elster, “The Market and the Forum: Three Varieties of Political Theory”, in Elster and Hylland, eds., Foundations of Social Choice Theory.
  • Bernard Williams, “The Idea of Equality”, Philosophy , Politics and Society 2nd Series.
  • Amartya Sen, Equality of What?.
  • Steven Shavell, Economic Analysis of Welfare Economics, Morality and the Law.
  • Tibor Scitovsky, The Joyless Economy.
  • William Baumol, Welfare Economics and the Theory of the State.

[Brad DeLong's Semi-Daily Journal (2004)]

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