Notes on Virtues

Wiki Contributions


Notes on Shame

When an author uses a term that has many, conflicting definitions in popular use, it's reasonable to hope the author will explain which of these definitions he or she intends. It's less reasonable, I think, to insist that the author must use those terminology choices that you prefer.

In the case of "shame" it's impossible for me to please everyone, since there are so many competing and conflicting definitions in popular use. I can only choose one, explain myself, and ask my readers to meet me half-way.

Voting for people harms people

No need to stop at not voting for people. Voting in general fuels the madness. Please stop voting: You’re just making things worse.

Open & Welcome Thread September 2021

Any chance we could get a "book review" icon to decorate post titles in lists so that people don't feel they need to flag them with "[book review]..."? This could be based on the presence of the "book review" tag.

Does truth make you moral?

FWIW, the philosopher William Wollaston's magnum opus is devoted to defending the thesis that truth and morality completely overlap with one another: that to adhere to truth and to be moral are identical.

Here's a free ebook version of his argument: https://standardebooks.org/ebooks/william-wollaston/the-religion-of-nature-delineated

And my summary of his argument: https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/P75rzmpJ62E2Qfr3A/truth-reason-the-true-religion

I read “White Fragility” so you don’t have to (but maybe you should)

I think you may be reading more (and more sinister things) into this than were originally there. I don't think DiAngelo starts with "a large part of your core identity is inherently very bad" at all. The progression she has in mind is more like this:

  1. You were raised in a culture that has a lot of baggage from its explicitly white supremacist origins, and as part of learning to adopt to that culture you learned ways of getting along with it that have the effect of reinforcing its racism. In part this is because as a white person those things were designed with your benefit in mind and so you didn't have much reason to look the gift horse in the mouth. You did this even if you didn't have any bigoted intentions or desire to be awful to non-white people.
  2. If you would rather work to repair the racist system rather than coast along continuing to take advantage of it, you'll have to work on that. But if you respond defensively whenever such opportunities are pointed out to you, you probably won't succeed.
  3. So try to drop your defensiveness and don't take it so personally when someone points out ways in which you have picked up patterns of behavior that help to reinforce a racist system you aren't even very sympathetic with.
I read “White Fragility” so you don’t have to (but maybe you should)

This isn't my area of expertise, but as best as I understand it, one reason why racismS is not de facto a synonym for "being white" because racismS is not primarily a description of individual people, the way racismF can be.

That is to say, you can call someone a racistF, which is de facto a synonym for calling them a bigot or intolerant or a "race realist" or something like that, because a racistF is someone who believes in or professes racismF or acts like they do. But racismS doesn't work like that. It isn't an explicit belief system, but "a sys­tem­ic, usual­ly (now­a­days) non-ex­pli­cit or eu­phem­is­tic, often sub­con­scious, in­ter­lock­ing and per­va­sive set of social, cultural, and political devices that reinforce white supremacy."

So you wouldn't tell someone "you're racistS" but you might tell someone "you might want to be aware that the decision X that you made, or the thing Y that you said, had the effect of strengthening or perpetuating racismS."

I read “White Fragility” so you don’t have to (but maybe you should)

I see where you're coming from, and I also wish I didn't have to do the extra work to remember the correct technical definition of racism when I read White Fragility. That said, I expect that when I read a book in a particular discipline that I will need to be more attentive to the terms of art in that discipline. For instance, when I read a book of physics, I don't expect the author to cater to my folk definitions of "work", "energy", "power", "momentum", and so forth: instead, I expect that I will need to learn how to use the terminology of the field precisely as its practitioners do if I am to follow its arguments and learn what they have to teach.

An animated introduction to longtermism (feat. Robert Miles)

Bostrom estimates that just one second of delayed colonization equals 100 trillion human lives lost. Therefore taking action today for accelerating humanity’s expansion into the universe yields an impact of 100 trillion human lives saved for every second that it’s is brought closer to the present.

I don't much care for this rhetorically sneaky way of smudging the way we feel the import of "lives lost" and "lives saved" so as to try to make it also cover "lives that never happen" or "lives that might potentially happen." There's an Every Sperm is Sacred silliness at work here. Do you mourn the millions of lives lost to vasectomy?

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