Time Heals All Wounds.. And Then Kills the Patient
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Sun Nov 6 22:34:17 2011
Restatement on Foundations - Try 2

(This is "Try 2" because the first time I tried to post it, I started to basically write a book. I liked what I was starting to write, and might reuse the original, but .. Trimming this thing waaay down for here, in a way that hopefully keeps most of the interesting stuff. Someday, if I don't get around to actually writing books, some poor sod is going to go through my writings and try to figure out if there's anything interesting that can be salvaged, hopefully)

I occasionally come across yet-another-foundations-of-political-philosophy post with people laying down their axioms and moving through rights to their idea of social order. Some of them distinguish natural rights from legal rights, and for some these concepts are unitary. I don't think in terms of rights, although the closest I could say by analogue to that (alien-to-me) way of thinking is that there are no natural rights and plenty of legal rights; your "legal rights" are part of the social compact, and whatever you think those should be are what you and everyone else will struggle to make into legal rights; natural rights are an unnecessary multiplication of philosophical entities. I also don't exactly think in terms of axioms; I think we develop our philosophy by long attempts to reconcile/create/adjust broad principles and our judgement on specific matters, eventually reaching what John Rawls called reflective equilibrium. The broad principles are as close as most people get to axioms, and while they do have creative power in helping us approach new situations, we would adjust them if we didn't like how our judgement turned out and there were a reasonable adjustment that would not destroy too many of our other existing liked judgements.

Some broad principles and structure for my political philosophy, principly on two main topics: property/privilege and norms/centralisation: First note, I reject any man-on-an-island appeals when approaching political topics. We are not solitary creatures; we are only mentally and physically healthy, and our lives only have meaning, when we are part of a social network with other humans. It does not make sense to think of politics or norms when a person is alone, first because relations and norms are always specific to the society, second because the content of morality is primarily interpersonal; we might consider environmental and artistic matters to potentially be matters of morality, but they are not the main show, and third because anyone in that situation would go insane before too long.

Second note: there are (rough) levels of civilisation and interaction:

Basic intuitions: Three red lines for society: In all other circumstances, principles may, in principle, be weighed against necessity. (This list of red lines is not necessarily exhaustive, but is not meant to be very large; I have purposefully excluded many things that others would consider to be red lines, but there is a chance I may have forgetten to include things or may become convinced other things should be considered red lines)