Tuesday, November 27, 2007

posted at CT
If you read the comments engels you didn't read them carefully. Hamas is a political organization with a military "terrorist" contingent. Al Qaeda don't do social services. Who were Gambetta's sources, were they military or political? Badger covers that question and more. Other than that Seth F. puts it well.
Brad DeLong accused me of all sorts of evil when I said that until the recent war Hezbollah hadn't run a "terrorist" operation since 1994. He removed my comment, even though it included a well sourced link, and continued his argument. He did the same thing in a discussion of post revolutionary Iran, by pretending that nothing had changed in Iranian society over the past 20 years. Words are not numbers. Names are not values, they're labels. Foundations change when context changes; meanings change when objects change their shape, and shapes change as you move around them. You should never be so wed to your definitions that you refuse to look at any other. "The reality based community" is a label; it bears little relation to reality, but the people who use it don't think of it that way.
What's most important, knowledge or certainty? Is economics a formal science? Is it a science at all? Is philosophy a science? If not why do so many philosophers mimic scientific techniques? Is that mimicry useful? Again and again I read that the struggle is between rationalism and irrationalism, while in fact if it exists it's between rationalist formalism, the need for clarity even if its meaningless, and history. That's what offends me Henry.
What's a more worthwhile intellectual endeavor: using the methodology of academic libertarianism to understand human behavior or studying libertarianism itself as a historical phenomenon? The former precludes the latter. Studying the history of any language based subject/process/methodology/heuristic etc. etc. is the best way to undermine it. That's as true for the history of methodological individualism as it is for the history of the Catholic Church. Oddly enough, it's not so true for the study of atoms and molecules. The attempt to supplant words with numbers is as anti-intellectual as the worst of fuzzy-wuzzy relativism.

I guess the meaning of reality based just changed again"Steve Clemons: Everyone in the reality-based world agrees that Hamas has to be a party to peace talks."

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