Sent: Monday, May 27, 2002 4:21 PM Subject: A brief word on "Morality"
THEY BELIEVE THAT MORALITY IS JUST A PRETEXT FOR COERCION
It took me a while to find another post to go over. Many of Kolya's posts, especially earlier ones, were replies to Alice. Sadly, her contributions demonstrate she didn't know what Kolya was talking about; in other words he was talking over her head (or past her, if you prefer). I mean no offense to Alice in particular; I don't think anyone understood Kolya's posts at the time (his on-list supporters most definitely included.) Anyhow, none of those posts seemed appropriate. Then I got distracted reading David Deutsch posts. They all have the enjoyable quality of being true (though, yes, they don't always try to say as much as possible; they are conservative).
BTW the way his posts are conservative but still not listened to and even written off as wild new crazy-talk is a bit crazy-making (same thing happens with many of my posts, though I vary my style more.)
But anyway, this post is both amusing and confusing. It's packed full of references meant to belittle none other than me, Alice, and a few others. So let's get clear on just what it actually says.
Oh, and before I forget, what Kolya means here is that we believe the purpose of morality is that people found immoral can be justifiably coerced. That's sorta what law is for, though. Kolya knows this. So if we go a bit further, he's saying we believe morality doesn't exist, and people talking about it are really just trying to make laws about our personal lives.
I can field that one. Kolya was accused of advocating coercion because he declared various things immoral and failed to say what should be done about it. People filled in the gaps with whatever seemed obvious. For some people that wasn't "nothing" or "we're not talking about that right now, we'll deal with it later". Does their choice of coercion denote a character flaw? Kolya thinks so. Ho hum.
The question about what rational person wouldn't lose interest is sarcasm, which is notable because it's rare coming from Kolya.
Kolya is describing morality as being, in the perspective of ARRers, a trap to force people to self-sacrifice to stay in relationships or immorally leave.
By appreciation he means disdain. By return the favour he means he's resentful that we didn't understand him and agree with him. However, the bit about his world making sense again seems to be a bit of truth thrown in with the sarcasm. While there's an argument with an uncertain outcome going on, or at least one where he can't figure out why his opponent's say what they do, there's a bit of a hole in Kolya's worldview. But now by classifying our mental illness, Kolya can be at ease again, happily ignoring the ARRers who don't matter or count because of their mental illness.
Positivists thought that all statements not describing or predicting observations were meaningless. In simpler but less accurate terms, it's only real if you can touch (measure) it. Quite the insult, especially in context of a bunch of TCSers talking, since TCS is supposed to be from Popperian epistemology, and thus everyone present ought to know better.
The first credo just reinforces the positivism, which was previously just a label. The other makes them highly immoral. Kolya is thinking of libertarians as much as ARRers here (though I suppose all ARRers are libertarians, but not vice versa).
Don't push me is just a new version of the libertarian non-aggression principle which reads "Thou shalt not initiate force or threat of force." Kolya left out the bit about not threatening to push people, but it's not hard to argue that's implied. As you can see, Kolya is rather not a fan of libertarianism. Here he seems to say the point of libertarianism is to do away with morality and replace it with a mechanical rule.
I guess "judge" means morally, like judging someone's character or whether what they did was good or bad. It does not mean deciding whether someone pushed or not, which obviously has to be an acceptable thing for the court to do.
The origins of the name Listing aren't so lost. ARR is an email list. The culture shock thing is Kolya's way of saying our differences are large, possibly incommensurable. (I'm pretty sure I've only heard Kolya use that word, and people replying to Kolya). Commensurable means having something in common. Incommensurable means not having anything in common. But the point of the word is actually to say we'll never come to agree (which actually is an implied if we truly have precisely *nothing* in common). (I don't believe this; I'm implying Kolya might.) My guess Kolya might is emphasised by the way he imagined a bridge. These are different lands with a whole uncrossable river between them. The only possible way to cross in on the rarely-used bridge.
Of course we do have things in common, like being on Earth, and living in the same reality.
Kolya doesn't bother to argue that merging is better than separating (there's no obvious reason either should be generally better). He just throws it into good company (good character is better than valueless character? well duh!). It's hard to explain what Kolya means by wisdom, but just assume it's clearly a better thing than logic (though it's also a different kind of thing, and there is no tradeoff between having one or the other). Trust vs. maintaining one's guard is a bit of a cheap shot like merging vs. separating. We shouldn't trust blindly; we must have a careful balance.
I wonder what Kolya thinks I do all day. *sigh*
This isn't to say he isn't mostly right (though exaggerated) in his judgment of many libertarians. Even if he is, though, that wouldn't mean libertarian theory is bad or useless. It'd just mean it's a bad idea to try to base your life around it with nothing else. Bits, like what it has to say about economics, are very useful.
PS Kolya, if you read this, I feel no malice towards you, I simply tried to write what I thought this stuff meant. Even if I think you're flawed in 500 ways, that doesn't imply I will dismiss your other ideas.