Talking about "neoreaction" (or any other political group) already is a package-deal fallacy. NRs have a set of beliefs. Each of those beliefs individually can be true or false (or disconnected from evidence). These beliefs should be debated individually. It is quite possible that within the set, some beliefs will be true, some will be false, and some will be undefined. Then we can accept the true beliefs, and reject the false beliefs. There is no need to use the word "neoreaction" anywhere in that process.

So, instead of having threads about neoreaction, we (assuming we are going to debate politics) should have threads about each individual belief (only one such thread at a time). Then we should provide evidence for the belief or against the belief. Then we should judge the evidence, and come to a conclusion, unconstrained by identity labels.

The fact that we are not already doing it this way, is for me an evidence on the meta level that we are not ready for having political debates.

Debating beliefs separately, understanding the conjuction fallacy, providing evidence, avoiding labels, tabooing words... this is all rationality 101 stuff. This is "the path" we have already strayed from. If we collectively fail at rationality 101, I don't trust our ability to debate more complex things.

Political opinions are expressions of values. Values are not epistemically correct or wrong -- that's a category error.

Value is "I don't want children to starve". Political opinion is "we should increase the minimal wage (so the children will not starve)". There is more than the value; there is also the model of the world saying that "increasing minimal wage will reduce the number of starving children (without significant conflict with other values)". Other person may share the value, but reject the model. They may instead have a model that "increasing minimal wages increases unemployment, and thus increases the number of starving children", and therefore have a political opinion "we should remove minimal wage (so the children will not starve)". Same value, different models, different political opinions.

It seems to me that people usually differ more in their models than in their values. There are probably few people who really want to optimize the world to increase the number of starving children, but there are many people with political opinions contradicting each other. (Believing too quickly that our political opponents have different values is also covered in the Sequences.)

Each of those beliefs individually can be true or false (or disconnected from evidence). These beliefs should be debated individually.

I don't think it's quite that simple.

You are arguing for atomicity of beliefs as well as their independence -- you are saying they can (and should) stand and fall on their own. I think the situation is more complicated -- the beliefs form a network and accepting or rejecting a particular node sends ripples through the whole network.

Beliefs can support and reinforce each other, they can depend on one another. Some foundat... (read more)

1gjm6yMaybe. It seems to me that there could be two systems of political ideas -- call them A and B -- both of which are pretty credible when taken as wholes, but for which if you take any single proposition from one and examine it in the context of the other, it's obviously wrong. (The same thing happens with scientific theories. Key words: "Quine-Duhem thesis".) On the other hand, it does also happen that basically-unrelated ideas get bundled together as part of a package deal, and in that case we probably do generally want to try to separate them. So I'm not sure what the best way is to make the tradeoff between splitting and lumping.

Open thread, Nov. 17 - Nov. 23, 2014

by MrMind 1 min read17th Nov 2014329 comments


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