John Rawls, a celebrated American philosopher, builds for himself a powerful perspective from which he explains society and suggests reinventing it through a small set of basic principles. He gives us the Original Principle as a foundation for thinking about justice, and provided one accepts it (and discards alternative conceptions, at least in the context of a set of conversations), one has enough of a foundation to reasonably convergently construct many of the other basics of a just society. Many other philosophies have the same structure; libertarian philosophy has a similarly small core. Other conceptions of good offer methods that are more process-oriented, relying on beliefs of human nature (Hobbes, or political anarchism, or many conceptions of democracy). (view full entry for contents)
(Note that this is the first entry since I split my personal blog off from here, and from here on you'll be seeing more of an idea and theory focus from this and a lot less about me; if you want the other blog too or just the other blog, go to my website and read it there or through that Atom/RSS feed)
The styles of reason we use in political and philosophical discourse, these fields being divergent, are varied. (view full entry for contents)
I was troubled for awhile with a dissident voice regarding my recent hostility to a meetup group that was a glorified tourguide that was some guy's business; when I intended to join that particular event, I assumed the fee was to let the group see behind-the-scenes parts of the transit system, and almost walked away when it became clear that the main dude was just making a living off of this.
The dissident voice was saying "either you're willing to pay for the event or not; is the value of the tour worth the amount you paid or not? If not, that's fine, but if it is, it should not bother you that a guy was supporting himself off of it".
I've come to peace on the matter by noting that the meaning in our acts is something it's okay for us to think about, and that includes financial decisions. We are right to reject things like this as blind transactions simplified to a trade of funds for services; while that is part of the transaction and we are able to accept or reject on that basis, it's also fair to remember that every action in our lives is potentially imbued with meaning, and while meaning is hard to quantify it's also an important part of how we live meaningful lives. Something having the wrong meaning can be enough to cause us to make decisions that are not understandable through analyses of the cost/benefit exchanges; we do things that suit our self-image, that fit our narratives of life, and potentially reject things that are alien to that.
That's the generic understanding that opens up the space for my specific understanding; that I like open egalitarian communities as circles of friends, and chafe at those that are too centric around a person, or where one person is supported by the rest, absent good justification (and even when there is good justification it changes how I'd perceive such a group). And that's okay.
In general I am bothered by the two halves of this:(view full entry for contents)
In case you're not familiar with the basic concepts: (view full entry for contents)
I've never been very comfortable with Bayesian statistics; I recognise that most non-Bayesian models have deficiencies in weighing unknown factors, and that our ability to do so is an important human ability, but I prefer to consider those things beyond the reach of statistics-as-I-recognise-them and to reject formalisation of the realm they reside in. I'm unsure how to weigh this against Bayesian statistics though, and I'm not sure if I am more reluctant of Bayesian statistics specifically or the basic idea of trying to semi-formalise (which I think bayes is) things that can't be made truly formal without (presumed) departure from good judgement. Can Bayes capture human semi-formal reasoning? (I am not sure "formal" is quite the right word for what I'm getting at)
It's possible that someday I will accept Bayesian Statistics as an inferiour alternative to proper statistics when we don't have the data needed to do it right but really need something mechanisable. Particularly given that between-domain reasoning (which we do a lot of) means the first part of that "when" is pretty important.
(I'll try to use the term CEAC in the future for posts like this; "Current Events And Commentary")
Two interesting posts from the EFF, on one of which I take the EFF's side, and on the other I am opposed: (view full entry for contents)
Some commentary on other things: (view full entry for contents)
And some commentary on some recent articles/blogentries that caught my eye: (view full entry for contents)
Some years ago in university, I gave a speech to a student group I was a part of to open up a discussion; the speech was on the limits of tolerance, (view full entry for contents)
Anyhow, JJ McCulough recently commented on another Dan Savage speech where he spoke against bullying and anti-gay culture while criticising Christianity as the origin for much of such behaviour.
Some weeks ago I was at a philosopher dinner with someone who's a local philosophy professor, and as the evening were wrapping up I mentioned gentleman-scholars and we had a brief discussion of what it means to do philosophy; he remarked that to him, there should be two terms, 「amateur philosopher」 and 「philosopher」, the latter either being employed as a philosopher or published and the former not necessarily being so. I mentioned that I use a different world-of-terms for that; 「philosopher」 being the general term and 「professional philosopher」 being the person who makes a living out of it (being published not really mattering to me).
A few months ago, I bumped into James Salsman online; given our history of involvement in various projects, I probably should've met him earlier, likely offline, but oh well. He's one of the more prolific human posters I follow on G+. Recently he put together a proposal (not sure if he wrote it himself, nabbed something from Occupy's MoveToAmend project, or something else) for legal reform and put it up on a legal petition site. Some thoughts: (view full entry for contents)
You might also enjoy the further conversation on James' post on the specifics.
SFGate had an okay article on the faction of occupy in Oakland/SF that've been allegedly smashing stores. (view full entry for contents)I am willing to support even violent direct action, and potential destruction of property or governments, but only when the situation makes such action prudent and ideally effective towards serving some decent social need. Direct action has a heavy cost on society and is not to be entered into lightly. I don't believe this support actually marks me as unusual categorically; most people we know today would, I hope, have been willing to take part in the Underground Railroad were they transplanted into the past, doing what it took for that operation to be successful. The causes and types of progress such devotion might cause me to support might mark my positions as a bit unusual, perhaps.