Archives for category: Ethics

a questioned asked on Quora; my answer:

A number of times. But here is one obvious case, in what amounts to metaethics. Maybe I am misapplying the idea. You tell me.

What modern normative philosophers call “morality” — and what older philosophers might have designated as “the rules and standards of justice” — depends, in practice, upon widespread reciprocity. That is, there are prisoner’s dilemmas throughout situations of conflict and potential coöperation, and it makes sense for any individual to coöperate often only if others also approach such arenas of interaction with an open attitude, not flight or fight, much less with a hankering to steal.

It has been shown that a tit-for-tat strategy of reciprocity — which closely tracks many traditional notions of justice — leads to the most widespread success. But how can you trust “the other guy” to treat you fairly, justly, and not as predator to prey?

It takes more courage than many, many folks naturally possess to approach a potentially dangerous situation with a reserved reciprocity standard in mind. So, how do we steal ourselves to this? Indeed, how can we open ourselves to such attitudes before we gain the practical experience with the world to be confident that such strategies do in fact work, for both self and other, and over a long haul?

A number of religious ideas have helped. They differ from society to society, and we call them myths, and all or most seem obvious fictional. Made up. But the threat of a punishing Deity encourages some to curb their bloodlust and “defector” urges. The idea that we are all “equal before God” helps, too. And as a number of evolutionary psychologists have pointed out, the mere contemplation of a supernatural (nature-transcendent) or metaphysical (normal existence-transcendent) Being or even Principle signals both to self and others a willingness to transcend narrow ego-interests. Setting the stage for civilized coöperation.

This sort of thing often gets swept up under the rubric of “signaling.” But such signaling works regardless of reality. There may or may not be a God. Or natural rights. Or the categorical imperative. But even fictional ideas can be real in their effects.

I sometimes think of the advance of civilization as aided by a series of outrageous fictions.

Seems like the Thomas Theorem to me.

twv

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I pity the young.

They’ve been programmed to believe that because some men do bad things, we all do bad things, and that when some of those bad things are sexual abuse of women, that makes us all “misogynists.” And “trash.” But listen:

  • You are not trash for wanting sexual relations with women.
  • You are not trash for being forward about it.
  • You may be, however, if you are disgusting about it. (“Trashy,” at least.)
  • You definitely are if you use force to get what you desire.

The crimes of a few (or even the many) does not imbue you with guilt, ineluctably.

IMG_2026Yes, these thoughts are brought to you by a specific essay that has been brought to my attention: “How, If You’re a Man, To Deal with the Fact that You’re Trash,” by Damon Young.

I pity Young himself.

But I am not going to critique his dreadful confession of intellectual cravenness. I will let you read it and judge for yourself.

I am on a rant here.

The problem of the present age is that the only form of chivalry left is what has been subsumed by feminism, which is chivalry metamorphosed and corrupted.

And the only form of modesty with current cultural cachet appears to be the hyper-faux-puritanism of major media scolds.

img_2320Why does the puritanical mindset so quickly lead to witch (and warlock) hunts?

I pity the young. They have not been taught the skills to recognize b.s. when they encounter it. They do not seem to realize that most messages they receive are not simple but complex, and one need not accept or reject anything wholesale. Pick at the ideas, men. Prescind one notion from another. Discover principles. Take ideas apart, see what the consequences may be, and then slowly start putting them back together.

If you’d do that, then you would see that much of what is dominating Twitter and cable news is trash talk cruelty and bigotry. It is that way not because important issues are being raised, but because important stuff is being wed to triviality.

IMG_2080And let’s get real: if people would consider marriage as the primary outlet for sexual passion, a lot of this would change. A lot of this is the de facto sexual freedom we have, and the unprepared reactions to it by men (and women) of ambition.

I pity the young. They are caught in the rush of history and it is not slowing down even as it reaches the ocean of oblivion.

twv

Brain

re: ongoing sexual misconduct revelations

Much is being said about power dynamics, inequalities of power and the problems people have with sexual relations between people on different levels of a hierarchy. And there is indeed much to be said for this perspective. But in several ways this relentless rehash of the same perspective — a litany of standard feminist analysis — masks a few truths. Or possible truths, of which I here make some I-hope-plausible conjectures:

IMG_20801. The main issue in sexual “harassment” situations — though definitely not when it steps up a level or two to rape — is a kind of breach of contract. When somebody higher in an institutional hierarchy brings sex into the workplace, that is a de facto change of the job description from whatever the professional relationship was to whoremongering and procurement. Most of those subjected to such jarring contractual shifts should object to such a move.

2. It may not be power that corrupts but some other factor, or perhaps some factor in addition to hierarchical power. Yesterday I speculated (on this site) that this other (perhaps additional) factor might be feminism itself, and the false promise of equality it offers but cannot deliver. Today I should mention the obvious: the bulk of these allegations are boiling up in the entertainment and political realms. Why is this? Because these are beset on all sides by hierarchical inequalities? Well, those exist in most walks of life. Perhaps it is because the people in these fields are all flirting with . . .

3. harlotry. Traditionally, actors and actresses were considered whores. And not without reason. They pretend to be other people for money, and their lives are taken up with falsity. They do things in a fake-but-“real” way. And they know it. Many of them fake sexual relations on stage or screen. Many, many are or were “models” — people cultivated to look good, and thus serve as sexual and beauty “objects” for others. Models, remember, are attention whores. Actors, too, are attention whores. Even politicians are attention whores. Is it any wonder that people engaged in activities one or two small steps removed from actual prostitution should behave, then, like pimps?

Indeed, to discover that near-whores and especially their managers and overseers adopt sexually transgressive behaviors should hardly surprise anyone. And, further, one reason for the belated tattling on all this misconduct could simply be that the “abused” targets of apparently unwanted sexual attention and sexual displays  and advances (“propositions”) took so long in going public may also have something to do with the expectations of whores and near-whores. Acting, especially, probably seems to many of its artistic aspirants to be something somewhat seedy. And when you are in a seedy business, what are the boundaries? The victims could themselves be in honest quandary. Not a predicament so much as a conceptual and moral muddle.

If this be the case, then perhaps one reason we see so much of this kind of conduct is not just that the industry/profession is corrupting, but also that

4. its known features attract the kind of person who aims to be transgressive. Power attracts; harlotry attracts absolutely.

Be that as it may (or may not) it is the case that much of the current brouhaha strikes me not so much anger at sexual crimes (though there is certainly that, and some of this uneasily hovers on the line between the merely icky to the obviously criminal) but as

5. just another puritanical moral panic. Americans are especially susceptible to this sort of thing. And it should be remembered: this is largely branded with the stamp of leftist politics and ideology, not social conservatism. And yet this sure feels like a puritanical conservatism. But there is no mystery here; this is not at all anamolous. Generally, today, the Left has become the “conservatives” and the Right the “liberals.”

Which is, I think, the cream of the jest. I could go on and on, even giving advice — and I really do think that America does not prepare its youngsters in the ways of the world, so that the targets of some ugly or criminal advance are not courageous in their reactions, and that this should be generally addressed — but the truth is, most of this seems not to be my business.

And many of the stories bandied about get attention from the lick-smacking puritans manqué.

I have never witnessed this kind of thing . . . in those around me. Yes, my own very physical person has been sexually groped by strangers, but on those few occasions that this did happen, I did not freak out or even for a moment surmise that I had been “assaulted.” An unwanted hand moving where no invitation had been given was easy for me to remove and discourage.

Obviously, I have led a nicely sheltered life. I have never been raped. And those whom I know to have been raped were so abused far from my ambit of protection.

Rape is a horrible thing, and my speculations, above, are not about rape. The speculations above are about sexual propositions and exposures as well as lewd comments and suggestions and flirtations.

And in those cases, especially when having occurred long ago, the dredging up of the stories amidst truly horrifying allegations of actual rape strike me as dangerous. They seem like attempts to upgrade offenses to crimes, and may have the unwanted side effect of downgrading, in the general public judgment, crimes to offenses of etiquette.

So, those who have true tales to tell of creepy behavior — if those tales do not rise to the level of rape or actual criminal assault, do not name names. Discuss the offenses? Sure. But name names only in the worst cases.

Do not jump on the mania train, please. Do not send the culture into another of our insane moral crowd madnesses.

twv

 

IMG_2031

 

So, comedian Louis C.K. has been caught in the commotion, this . . . warlock hunt. He has admitted to making inappropriate sexual . . . displays.

“These stories are true,” C.K. says in a statement sent by his rep Lewis Kay. “At the time, I said to myself that what I did was okay because I never showed a woman my d–k without asking first, which is also true. But what I learned later in life, too late, is that when you have power over another person, asking them to look at your d–k isn’t a question. It’s a predicament for them. The power I had over these women is that they admired me. And I wielded that power irresponsibly.”

My take?

Woman flashes tits at a man: cheers all around; jubilation.

Man whips out his dick: the sky falls down; night terrors.

Lesson?

IMG_2027There is no equality between men and women. We cannot even have a rough parity. The double standard still exists and it always will — at least until we have morphed away from sex, after we have deeply embraced some cyborgian future. (Mere “gender” non-conformity will not do.)

Yes. Feminism is dead, even as feminists whoop up shouts of triumph.

That being said, I am amazed that an apparently intelligent man would think springing out the pud early on in a relationship, or in a carelessly prepared context, is a good thing, or a sexy thing.

“Men are such dicks.”

Well, I guess so.

But to what extent have men like Louis C.K. been misled by feminism itself? We are told that “everybody’s equal.” And so men not unreasonably extrapolate from their fantasies to their behavior: “Hey, it would be great if Tig Natarro flashed her tits at me! So, why not show her my dick?”

IMG_2031The Golden Rule in action? Do as would be done by.

But the Golden Rule is hardly a rule at all, as I have argued before. The Silver Rule is a bit better: Don’t do as you would dislike being done to.

And here we have to remember the inequality. For people are not equal. And it is not Tig (or some other nominally attractive woman or better) who should serve as your paradigm case: better would be some woman you find disgusting, some fat, ugly, unpleasant person. Or your mother (on the other end of the spectrum, I hope). Someone you don’t want to fuck.

True reciprocity is not always easy to figure, and one’s first conjecture about a relationship may deeply misconstrue the actual nature of the relationship.

Which is one reason that sticking close to traditional habits of decorum continues to be such a good idea: you do not know how to calculate all the features of human interaction; you lack the specific knowledge of context-from-another’s point of view, or of their desires and standards. (It is also the reason that act-utilitarianism makes so much less sense than rule-utilitarianism.)

But we do not live in a traditional context. So that confuses us. Men have been told for such a long time that “we should treat men and women as the same” that no wonder they galumph into one predicament after another.

Now, Louis C.K. admits that “asking permission” to engage in sexual display puts women into a “predicament.” True. But the whole modern project of sexual equality puts men into a predicament. Many men eagerly take up the explicit terms of the movement, not realizing that it was never about those explicit terms. “Equality” is a term of art at best. The art? Advancing the status of women in society. Men are not being advanced much at all. Men are supposed to “just adapt.” Make way.

IMG_2080Hardly fair. But fairness has little to do with all this, either.

But look, some of this modern predicament is merely comeuppance. Much of feminism is male fantasy. And men are discovering that they have not gained what they thought feminism would provide them: women who behave more like men. Which is something so many men want. They yearn for women to behave in ways they understand. They want the sexual interplay to be done The Male Way. They want fun. They want freedom. They want . . . minimal responsibility.

You cannot have it, men. You will always be held responsible. Which is why when feminists talk equality, you must knowingly nod your head, but, privately, or in the company of other men, remind yourselves: there is no real equality; women are not men, or even very much like them in some important ways; feminists are speaking fiction and lies; everything has costs; the feminist pretense is not utopian but dystopian.

It is up to us. For it is quite obvious that ambitious women have been so misled by feminism that they, too, haven’t a clue. One moment they demand to be treated as equals, the next? Shrieking, shrinking damsels in distress.

And now there is the mob, vindictive.

Well, it is not me being attacked, so, well, sparse sympathy from me. Men: grow up. Do what you have been telling the rest of us to do. But think. Do not follow. Lead.

And feminism? It is poison, best taken in very small doses.

twv

cropped-discriminations-rational-tao1

 

 

 

 

N.B. Mariah Carey’s problems may seem to be a reverse of the usual order. And perhaps they are. But I confess: I find the lawsuit to be ridiculous, and have little sympathy for the bodyguard suing her. Perhaps more discussion is needed. Though frankly, as an employee you have to define what you will not do, or put up with. The proper response is probably, “You realize that you have broken the rules here, right, ma’am? More of this and I walk out the door — and you realize that breach of contract negotiations will be made public.”

Also note: children are not equal to adult men (or women), either. Which is why there are laws such as “statutory rape” and legal principles to protect the young. The case of Anthony Edwards shows how molestation can occur for years — and here again (and we are getting a lot of these, eh, Kevin Spacey?) the attitude must be to protect the vulnerable. Which is why relationships that might be, on a stretch, acceptable or dismissible for adult men perhaps even in hierarchical relations is not so when children or youths are involved with older people, adults.

Stephen Willeford

On Sunday, Mr. Stephen Willeford, a late middle-aged Christian man with an AR-15 (the rifle most despised by gun control advocates, often called “an assault rifle”) stopped a mass murderer who was systematically executing those remaining alive after his initial horrific barrage of gunfire. Willeford brought a halt to the evil man’s executions just as the shooter was standing above a fearful victim on the floor. How did Willeford do this? By engaging him with gunfire. A pursuit followed, and before the chase was over, the Christian had shot the criminal twice, severely wounding him. Police picked the mass murderer off in the end, but there is no question that the AR-15-wielding citizen saved at least one life . . . and possibly many more.

img_0452He is precisely what many deny exist: a good man with a gun.

Among the many lessons?

  • It is useful to have a high-powered, easy-to-fire semi-automatic rifle at hand and know how to use it.
  • It is useful to have ammo pre-loaded in multiple magazines — our hero might have saved more lives had he possessed three or four magazines in full ready, since, after identifying the sounds he heard as gunfire, he took some time obtaining and loading one of the several magazines he used that day.
  • And yes, this turned out to be precisely one of those situations in which owning a lot of ammo and magazines that hold many rounds each was crucial for justice to be reëstablished.

Also, Willeford was not merely an NRA member, he was also an NRA-certified instructor in firearms use.

It is now well known that existing firearms regulations might have stopped the assailant from acquiring his arsenal, but government agencies failed to do their mandated jobs. “New regulation” does no good if government is (as it often is) incompetent. The killer bought his guns illegally according to current law.

Were it not for the creepy times we live in, I would be amazed to learn that a universal upswelling of praise of and honor to Mr. Willeford failed to develop.

Instead, much of the major media has engaged in really icky innuendo and defensiveness as well as denial of facts and misstatements of common knowledge about firearms.

Also, I have heard no small amount of anti-Christian snark.

Creepy America.

twv

N.B. Steven Crowder’s interview with Willeford, though cringeworthy in some respects, is must-see on this issue.

This synopsis first appeared on my Facebook page the other day. That is indeed where most of my blogging starts these days.

All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing and for the State to do something.

twv

512152ED-CB17-4316-BE41-2820B94C1BD2

I believe in only one thing: liberty; but I do not believe in liberty enough to want to force it upon anyone.

The problem, in re H. L. Mencken’s admission, above, is that to obtain freedom for yourself you must bar others from abridging it not only from self, but from some or even all others. Liberty cannot be advanced except by taking license away from others.

And forswearing it for self, as well.

This is a corollary to William Allen White’s great maxim:

Liberty is the only thing you cannot have unless you are willing to give it to others.

Or, to summarize, the words of J. H. Morse:

Liberty is no respecter of persons. Freedom with an exception clause is spelled L.I.C.E.N.S.E.


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The Moon at Apogee and Perigee

I began my interest in politics with a fascination with anarchism. It was how I reacted to the discontent and horrors of the Sixties and Seventies.

This early study put me in an ideal historical context to assess all forms of radical activism. How? Because the anarchists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries may have been the least effective proselytizers of a cause in our time. They completely undermined their own dreams and ideals by engaging in “propaganda by the deed.”

Most such deeds — shootings, sabotage, bombings — amounted to anti-propaganda.

But earnestly done nevertheless.

Which brings us to the spectacle of radicals jumping off, willingly, their alleged high moral ground with stupid, indeed, utterly foolish actions (and writings) . . . allegedly for their cause.

Can I Punch Nazis?

So here we are, witnessing the lunatic Left immediately following apogee. That’s fine with me, but I guess I would prefer it if, somehow, these lunatics would break orbit and wander away from the home world.

In any case, to witness a whole movement in self-destructive behavior — committed to self-destructive behavior — is breathtaking. And it does suggest that radicalism tends to be dominated by (if not reserved for) the unhinged.

And the problem appears to be there with both Early and Late Adopters of a radical position.

twv

N.B. The photos of the Moon, above, show the sizes of the Earth’s smaller double at apogee and perigee.

McInnes on Hannity with feminist

Gavin McInnes makes some good points in his recent video on a certain type of “journalist” he does not like, a group of censorious, moralistic women he calls the Spinster Police:

But he insists that these women writers are not good at their job. An odd charge. For it is quite obvious that the female journalists he is talking about are doing precisely what they are hired to do: give half-assed and half-assessed arguments mixed with invective, calumny and virtue signaling — all in the cause of “social justice” and “feminism” and a bunch of allied isms.

I would say that they are doing a fine job as demagogues, as harridans, as scolds. They may even win, and reap the whirlwind as ultimate reward. Cultists sometimes do.

Now, McInnes often repeats a claim that women would be happier, on the whole, were they to do what they are evolutionary designed to be best at, something that men cannot do: give birth to and nurture human life. Wasting time on once-predominantly male occupations does not make them happy, he says, it makes them frustrated.

And kind of pathetic.

This is no doubt true for many such women. The Cat Lady phenomenon is a little hard to take. And all the mantras of “independence,” the repeated rationales. Methinks the ladies do protest too much.

But from this it does not follow that women who forswear family life for dubious careers are bad at their careers. Many are fantastic writers, lawyers, doctors, what-have-you. But still unsatisfied. Why? For the simple reason that careers qua careers are not as satisfying as women have been told, have been telling themselves.

Feminism gained much impetus from envy. Or at least plain covetousness. Some women coveted the positions of successful, alpha males. And out of this covetousness feminism grew. In the cause of equal rights and responsibilities, this was fine, so far as it goes, but covetousness, once upgraded from vice to virtue, becomes all-consuming.

And the trouble with desiring what somebody else has is the tendency to forget what one already has, or has the best chance of obtaining. It is not much different than other vices, especially miserliness. The miser so obsesses about money that he forgets what money is for: spending now and saving to spend in the future. It is not about hoarding. Similarly, covetousness over-values what others have and under-values what the covetous have. And in the case of feminist women, what became under-valued is motherhood itself, the biological function and social institution necessary for the continuation of the species.

If you choose against your nature, prepare for the consequences. They can be vast.

In the case of many women, what careers get them is often a stunted or negligible family life: often no marriage, and either no children, one child only, or (the worst) de facto fatherless children.

Now, having only one or two children is part of a major pattern that comes with wealth acquisition: the substitution of quantity of children for quality of children. (See Theodore Schultz’s 1981 opus, Investing in People.) And, because of the small size of families, each child becomes super-important to the mothers, and that is quite a bond, one that I wish not to challenge at all — well, other than to note how big the cultural change is when most children come from small homes: risk averse parenting (because of the increased marginal utility of each child) leads to sheltered, over-protected children which in turn engenders spoiled, whiny, demanding, insufferable adults.

But back to our career women, especially those who are single and childless. They may be very good at what they do. But that does not mean that they have chosen wisely. Even if they are extremely competent, it can still be the case that it makes more sense to invest their lives in motherhood. Motherhood is natural, and one would have to cultivate an Epicurean or an existentialist anti-naturalism to make that pay off. More importantly, however, may be comparative advantage.

Say a woman has found a suitable mate with whom to procreate and establish a family. Even if the woman is better at her market-based job than be her husband, her comparative advantage may still be motherhood. What one should do is not always a maximization of a particular goal, but a situation- and opportunity-dependent satisficing.

No man can bear a child; most women can. Though men can indeed nurture children, women do tend to have a developed-by-evolution skillset to do that much better. Which means that time spent away from making a home and producing future humans, with all the joys and sorrows that entails, is apt to appear (ceteris paribus) much more enticing than doing the career thing.

Besides, as Dr. Jordan Peterson insists, most people do not have careers. They have jobs. Real careers are demanding and all-absorbing. Not univocally good life choices. Not without tremendous costs. If one can be fulfilled outside the market environment, why preclude it?

So, my point against Gavin McInnes is not that he is wrong about the advantages that women can find by embracing motherhood, or his oft-expressed arguments about how very different the fatherhood role is. It is just that the case for more women choosing motherhood and family life over careerism does not rest on the idea that they tend to suck at careers. It is, instead, that they have such a comparative advantage for family work that even in many cases where they are extremely competent — even genius — at their jobs, opting for family life often makes more sense.

The cream of the jest, though, resides in the cases Gavin focuses on: of extremely attractive women in media jobs. He mocks a professional woman who scorned the family option of motherhood but nevertheless got a facelift. Wives rarely get facelifts for husbands, unless very rich. They get facelifts to land a husband, or — and this is key — keep them in the job market longer.

You see, in media, as in the performing arts, it really helps to look great.

It is amazing, to me, to see so many good looking musicians. Does good looks naturally skew with musical talent? Writing talent? News commentary? Lawyering? That has not been my street-level, workplace-level experience. But it is so at the higher levels. Why? Because people like to look at good-looking people, and so, when the public is involved, or many clients are involved, good looks aids and even trumps talent.

Which brings us not to sexism but to lookism.

Looks, for women, has long been the chief lire for sexual attraction. But instead of honing their looks to obtain the coöperation of one man, for mating, career women hone their looks to obtain repeat business from a long string of customers, clients, and fans. This means they are nudged to pay more attention to their looks than they likely would under family life. Farding up for one man, invested primarily early in the relationship, swapped for farding up late in life for a huge audience? A daring exchange.

What a woman who swaps marriage for career finds out is what many men have long known: whoring is at the core of capitalism. The woman who marries and has children does is whore herself but once. In a career, she does what workingmen do: whore herself out every day.

Quite an inglorious end to the coveting of “what men have.”

And it is interesting to see what has really happened here: women have coveted only the top positions in society. They rarely covet the dangerous jobs, the messy jobs. There is, as is now common to notice, no cry for women’s workplace parity with men in logging, fishing, trash removal, etc. And the demands for the more glamorous of dangerous jobs, like policing and firefighting, have led to the erosion of standards in those callings. Women tend not to be as strong and hardy as men, so becoming cops and firefighters is harder for them, unless the bars for entrance are often lowered, to the public’s endangerment.

The problem with high-profile women scorning family life and marriage and even men, and scorning child-bearing, is not that it does not work for some of these women. After all, we want people of both sexes to choose what best suits them. The real problem is that it sets up a class system. The really attractive career women succeed in front of our eyes; they constantly defend their cause, ballyhooing their life choices — and this is not, for reasons unknown to me, usually interpreted as elaborate self-justification. And by doing this they provide a horrible example . . . for less attractive women, less career-oriented women. These less-blessed women go on to adopt values that channel them into unprofitable lifestyles wherein they become stuck in bad jobs while under-producing the one good that might make them happier: children. The reward is minimal, the opportunity cost tremendous.

And the now-common feminist scorn for men, the belief they are unimportant for women, sends too many mothers and their children into the Dependent Caste, perpetually stuck on state aid, trapped.

So, it is time for feminists to find it within themselves to praise motherhood. Further,

  • hating on men as fathers is not doing women in general any good;
  • the substitution of the welfare state for fathers has been a bad deal;
  • the valorization of that most unnatural of activities, market labor, above the more natural economy of family life, was doomed from the start to frustrate women.

And the great irony of this shift? Women forever courting the dreaded “male gaze” — but instead of to please one man, they fard up to please the masses of men.

Some swap.

twv

 

If you side with the criminals in your community because they identify as the same color as you, how does that not make you a racist?

If you side with cops who commit egregious crimes just because they are “lawmen,” how does that not make you statist?

Now, I admit, statism is worse than racism. A commie is a more dangerous person, ceteris paribus, than either a white or a black nationalist. Problem is, most racists are statists.

But some racists do seem to be anti-law, to be antinomians to the point of opposing order itself, against any peaceful public adjudication of conflict. They promote crime, conflict, revolution. Without a real end point, a peaceful resolution. This seems to me the opposite of statism, at least in one dimension. Criminalism? Nihilism? Anarchism?

What is this? I smell it in some racists, black or white. But surely these will revert to mere kakocracy, to a racist statism amounting to the rule by the wholly untrustworthy.

twv