Zack_M_Davis's 2018 Reviews

Local Validity as a Key to Sanity and Civilization

It strikes me as pedagogically unfortunate that sections i. and ii. (on arguments and proof-steps being locally valid) are part of the same essay as as sections iii.–vi. (on what this has to do with the function of Law in Society). Had this been written in the Sequences-era, one would imagine this being (at least) two separate posts, and it would be nice to have a reference link for just the concept of argumentative local validity (which is obviously correct and important to have a name for, even if some of the speculations about Law in sections iii.–vi. turned out to be wrong).

Decoupling vs Contextualising Norms

Reply: "Relevance Norms; Or, Gricean Implicature Queers the Decoupling/Contextualizing Binary" (further counterreplies in the comment section)

I argue that this post should not be included in the Best-of-2018 compilation.

Zack_M_Davis's 2018 Nominations

Act of Charity

This part is very important (the recursive distortion of a conscious, strategic lie is less bad than the alternative of trashing your ability to think in general):

Carl: "[...] But there's a big difference between acting immorally because you deceived yourself, and acting immorally with a clear picture of what you're doing."

Worker: "Yes, the second one is much less bad!"

Carl: "What?"

Worker: "All else being equal, it's better to have clearer beliefs than muddier ones, right?"

Local Validity as a Key to Sanity and Civilization

I link this post (and use the phrase "local validity") a lot as a standard reference for the "This particular step of an argument either makes sense or doesn't make sense, indpendently of whether you agree with the conclusion of the broader argument" idea.

A Sketch of Good Communication

This is where you haven't changed your model, but decide to agree with the other person anyway.

I very often notice myself feeling psychological pressure to agree with whoever I'm currently talking to; it feels nicer, more "cooperative." But that's wrong—pretending to agree when you actually don't is really just lying about what you believe! Lying is bad!

In particular, if you make complicated plans with someone without clarifying the differences between your models, and then you go off and do your part of the plan using your private model (which you never shared) and take actions that your partner didn't expect and are harmed by, then they might feel pretty betrayed—as if you were an enemy who was only pretending to be their collaborator all along. Which is kind of what happened. You never got on the same page. As Sarah Constantin explains in another 2018-Review-nominated post, the process of getting on the same page is not a punishment!

Argue Politics* With Your Best Friends

That getting-on-the-same-page process is not a punishment.

It’s something you'd only do with a friend close enough that you really might cooperate on work that you care about getting done.

Even if the process happens to involve some amount of yelling and crying! It's still not a punishment! It's still important!

Expressive Vocabulary

This post is an eloquent defense of the skillful wielding of the power of language against the forces of blandness, pedantry, and cowardice that every day threaten to degrade our cognition and thereby consume us all.

Contrite Strategies and The Need For Standards

Standards! We should have them! We should repent when we fail to live up to them!

(Looks like there may be a technical error to fix, though?)

The Intelligent Social Web

In most cases, I don't think this is malice. It's just that they need the scene to work.