Social problems are not only hard but finally insoluble. Yet many of them will inevitably get some kind of "treatment"; it is a question of better or worse, or of making things better, more or less, or making them worse than before, even to downright disaster. As I remember hearing "Tommy" Adams say in a classroom, we must not call any problems insoluble which must be solved in some way and for which some solutions are better, or worse, than others.

Frank Knight, "The Role of Principles in Economics and Politics" p.19

His claim of the insolubility of social problems is not a note of hopeless despair but should be understood in the context of his argument that free association and cooperation are the best and really only way to solve social problems, but pushed to their limit the result would be intolerable.

Think "Tommy" Adams refers to Thomas Sewall Adams.

Rationality Quotes Thread March 2015

by Vaniver 1 min read2nd Mar 2015235 comments


Another month, another rationality quotes thread. The rules are:

  • Please post all quotes separately, so that they can be upvoted or downvoted separately. (If they are strongly related, reply to your own comments. If strongly ordered, then go ahead and post them together.)
  • Do not quote yourself.
  • Do not quote from Less Wrong itself, HPMoR, Eliezer Yudkowsky, or Robin Hanson. If you'd like to revive an old quote from one of those sources, please do so here.
  • No more than 5 quotes per person per monthly thread, please.
  • Provide sufficient information (URL, title, date, page number, etc.) to enable a reader to find the place where you read the quote, or its original source if available. Do not quote with only a name.