Monday, January 26, 2009

The purpose of life is the pursuit of pleasure. For some people, pleasure is work.

Daniel Davies, alias Dsquared [comments here] alias Bruschettaboy [comments here]
I'm in there.

Looking for a good passage from Cohen: Incentives, Inequality, and Community PDF
An example that for some readers may be close to home: the
policy argument that rates of pay to British academics should be
raised, since otherwise they will succumb to the lure of high for-
eign salaries. We can suppose that academics are indeed disposed
to leave the country because of current salary levels. The issue of
whether, nevertheless, they should emigrate is pertinent to the
policy argument when they are regarded as fellow members of
community who owe the rest a justification for decisions that affect
the welfare of the country. And many British academics with an
inclination to leave who put the stated policy argument contrive
to avoid that issue by casting the minor premise of the argument in
the third person. They say: “Academics will go abroad,” not:
“We’ll go abroad.”
Actually reading him now, and trying not to lose patience, he seems close to stating the obvious: that socialism is a habit -or needs to be- rather than an ideology, and one that needs to be strengthened, while individualism is a habit that needs weakening. I thought it was a common assumption at this point that Thatcherism marked the rise of the striving and vulgarly materialist lower middle class, in opposition both to the working class and the old aristocracy. But I'm beginning to suspect that I've been wrong. It's not a truism, It's still true of course.

It's silly to think of socialism as more just than individualism. There's no one definition of the just. There's only what civilized people prefer.

3 comments:

abb1 said...

In the Soviet Union they used to charge those who choose to emigrate the cost of their college education.

What you're talking about here is communitarianism, not socialism, at least not in the modern sense; socialism doesn't require any habits, it's purely a top-down concept: the technocrats on top decide ('policies'!) how make the system fairer, more stable, more productive, etc. Whether the population is mostly communitarian-minded or individualist - it only matters so far as they may adjust their 'policies' ("let them keep their guns if that's what they want").


There's no one definition of the just.

True that.

There's only what civilized people prefer.

"civilized" is just as subjective as "just". I think I'm civilized, Dick Cheney thinks he is.

It's all in indoctrination.

D. Ghirlandaio said...

Curiosity is key, and disinterested curiosity is the purist form of curiosity. Between people you learn more by asking than by taking.
It gets a little more complex when you're dealing with animals. I like steak for example.
Laws are things we invent to simplify decision making. They're not pure forms but they diffuse tension by diffusing authority. "We do things this way here." And laws in a democracy come closest to treating people equally. Are people equal? No. But I'd rather live under the fiction that people are equal than under the fiction that certain people are superior, for the same reason I prefer disinterested to instrumental curiosity. The ridiculousness in academic political philosophy is the attempt to construct a formal non-contradictory model of law.
It's theology. And in the context of liberalism, instrumentalism -a secondary form of curiosity- is treated as foundational. It may be practically necessary to construct laws on that foundation but that's not philosophy that's politics. Liberal political philosophy might as well be the philosophy of the Catholic church. It's foundations are in social constructs taken as absolutes.
The hypocrisy is what's annoying.

And Abb, Cheney doesn't think he's civilized, he thinks civility's for suckers.

abb1 said...

Hypocrisy is most annoying, I agree.

You think Cheney doesn't think he's civilized? I suspect he thinks he is super-civilized. Everybody feels super-civilized.

He probably thinks both that he is super-civilized and that common morality is for suckers, half-wits, inferior people. That's, I think, a typical neocon position.