Sunday, June 12, 2022

Economic and linguistic inflation

F. A. Hayek’s classic paper “The Use of Knowledge in Society” famously argued that prices generated in a market economy function to transmit information that economic actors could not otherwise gather or make efficient use of.  For example, the price of an orange will reflect a wide variety of factors – an increase in demand for orange juice in one part of the country, a smaller orange crop than usual in another part, changes in transportation costs, and so on – that no one person has knowledge of.  Individual economic actors need only adjust their behavior in light of price changes (economizing, investing in an orange juice company, or whatever their particular circumstances make rational) in order to ensure that resources are used efficiently, without any central planner having to direct them.

Inflation disrupts this system.  As Milton and Rose Friedman summarize the problem in chapter 1 of their book Free to Choose:

One of the major adverse effects of erratic inflation is the introduction of static, as it were, into the transmission of information through prices.  If the price of wood goes up, for example, producers of wood cannot know whether that is because inflation is raising all prices or because wood is now in greater demand or lower supply relative to other products than it was before the price hike.  The information that is important for the organization of production is primarily about relative prices – the price of one item compared with the price of another.  High inflation, and particularly highly variable inflation, drowns that information in meaningless static. (pp. 17-18)

I would suggest that a similar problem is posed by what is called linguistic or semantic inflation.  This occurs when the use of a word that once had a fairly narrow and precise meaning comes to be stretched well beyond that original application.  The result is that the word conveys less information than it once did.  One way this occurs is via the overuse of hyperbole.  The author of the article just linked to gives as examples words like “awesome” and “incredible.”  At one time, if an author used these terms to describe something, you could be confident that it was indeed highly unusual and impressive – a rare and extremely difficult achievement, a major catastrophe, or what have you.  Now, of course, these terms have become utterly trivialized, applied to everything from some fast food someone enjoyed to a tweet one liked.  At one time, calling something “awesome” or “incredible” conveyed significant information because these terms would be applied only to a small number of things or events.  Today it conveys very little information because the words are applied so indiscriminately.

Now, the same thing is true of words like “racism” and “bigotry.”  At one time, to call someone a “racist” implied that he was patently hostile to people of a certain race, and to call someone a “bigot” implied that he was closed-minded about certain groups of people or ideas.  Accordingly, these terms conveyed significant information.  If someone really was a racist, this would manifest itself in behaviors like badmouthing and avoiding people of races he disliked, favoring policies that discriminated against them, and so on.  If someone really was a bigot, this would manifest itself in behaviors like being intolerant of those he disagreed with, refusing calmly to discuss or debate their ideas, and so on.

Today the use of these terms has been stretched far beyond these original applications.  In part this is a result of hyperbole born of political partisanship.  Labelling political opponents “racists” and “bigots” is a useful way to smear them and to stifle debate, just as hyping something as “awesome” or “incredible” is (or once was, anyway) a useful way to draw attention to it.  But the stretching of these terms has also resulted from the influence of ideologies (such as Critical Race Theory) that claim to reveal novel forms of racism and bigotry of which earlier generations were unaware – forms that float entirely free of the intentions or overt behavior of individuals.  The result is that even people who exhibit no behavior of the kind once thought paradigmatically racist and who harbor no negative attitudes about people of other races can still be labeled “racist” if, for example, they dissent from CRT or other woke analyses and policy recommendations.

In fact, the words have drifted so far from their original meanings that today it is precisely those who are most prone to fling around words like “racist” and “bigot” who are themselves most obviously guilty of racism and bigotry in the original, narrower and more informative senses of the terms.  They will, for example, shrilly and bitterly denounce “whiteness, “white consciousness,” and the like as inherently malign, even as they claim to eschew negative characterizations of any racial group.  They will refuse to engage the arguments of their opponents and try instead to shout them down and hound them out of the public square, even as they accuse those opponents of bigotry.

Partisan hyperbole and wokeness have thus introduced so much “static” (to borrow Friedman’s term) into linguistic usage that the terms no longer convey much information.  They now usually tell us little more than that the speaker doesn’t like the people or ideas at which he is flinging these epithets.  It is no surprise, then, that use of these terms is increasingly generating more eyeball-rolling and yawns than outrage or defensiveness.  As with “awesome,” “incredible,” and the like, overuse inevitably decreases effectiveness.  The indiscriminate use of “racism” and “bigotry” is like printing too much money – in the short term it produces a euphoric jolt, but in the long-term it is self-defeating.

Related posts:

“Pastoral” and other weasel words

Meta-bigotry

Some varieties of bullsh*t

102 comments:

  1. This article is pure linguistic common sense and very relevant. There are a lot of words like that out there. That said, I'd have liked an explanation of what to do about the linguistic inflation of terms like "racist" and "bigot." Do we try to "reclaim" these words, or do we avoid using them to avoid creating "static"?

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    1. Stick to the strict traditional definition.

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    2. How is that supposed to work?

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    3. I generally avoid using such words to avoid misunderstanding and to avoid perceptions of virtue signaling. At the same time, we need to insist on their real definitions in order to defend ourselves from spurious accusations of being 'racists' and 'bigots'.

      I also don't agree with the strategy adopted by some on the right of embracing the label 'racist' and claiming that because many of the behaviors that (falsely) get called 'racist' are not wrong, that therefore racism is not wrong.

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    4. Who says such things?

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  2. George Orwell makes a very similar point in his essay "Politics and the English Language:"

    "The word Fascism has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies ‘something not desirable’. The words democracy, socialism, freedom, patriotic, realistic, justice, have each of them several different meanings which cannot be reconciled with one another. In the case of a word like democracy, not only is there no agreed definition, but the attempt to make one is resisted from all sides. "

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    1. I was going to mention 'Politics and the English Language' as well.

      In the case of a word like democracy, not only is there no agreed definition, but the attempt to make one is resisted from all sides.

      This is what I've noticed about political arguments. All involved seem to deliberately avoid the basic principles of a rational discussion. Of course the 'left' is worse at this, but what passes for conservatism is pretty bad too.

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    2. I am fairly familiar with the misuse of "fascism", and I can see that "socialist" is often used to describe things that only tend toward an end that might be socialist (as on a slippery slope), but are not per se socialist. And it is true that "democracy" is sometimes mis-applied to certain things, such as "the Democratic Republic" communist dictatorships, but they did so intending to invoke the semantic cachet of democracy, not to CHANGE the word's meaning to stand for "dictatorship".

      Freedom, realistic, and justice, however, have different meanings because people cannot agree on the foundational formal and material principles of them, not because people are misusing the words. Which is also true of the word "happiness", although in a different way: there, people cannot agree on WHAT MAKES all persons happy, they don't disagree on whether happiness is desirable. Somewhat similarly, people disagree about what sorts of things will constitute just acts, but not about whether justice is better than injustice, nor about whether justice has to do with (in some way or other) what each is due. (Even a rabid materialist who might say "nobody is DUE anything because there is no such thing as morality", but in so saying he would be disputing whether people ought to bother with justice, but not about the fact that the word's meaning has to do with "what you are due".)

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    3. I recommend C.S. Lewis's *Studies in Words*. Watching him trace the history of words, often enough to the graves of their usefulness, is very instructive.

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    4. "This is what I've noticed about political arguments. All involved seem to deliberately avoid the basic principles of a rational discussion."

      Probably because it is a completely diferent thing...

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  3. Agreed.

    I think some on the Right have the same problem with labelling any situation, where taxes are used to provide social services, "communist" or "socialist". It's done so much that many ignorant people will gladly call themselves socialists thinking it is simply that: supporting of social services or the social welfare state.

    Now, since labelling someone "socialist" isn't deemed much of an epithet to them, the new move is to then try to equate socialism with fascism and call them "fascists". I'm not sure how successful that will be.

    I do worry that the word "groomer" might end up with the same problem. There is clearly grooming of kids in to weird sexual and gender ideologies going on, however, even stuff that isn't explicitly that is being lumped in, in an attempt to create a stigma that is all encompassing. Again, I don't know how successful that is going to be.

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    1. I don't think there's much risk of these terms being overused into meaningless by the right.

      The main reason the left had to keep expanding the definitions of "racist" and "bigot" is precisely because they were running out of any ACTUAL racism or bigotry among their opponents to make hay of, and in fact far there was (and is) far more of it on their own side.

      On the other hand, the sexual grooming of children that the left almost universally approves of keeps getting more extreme and overt, so there's less and less need to expand the description. And in the same way, the actions of the Biden regime, whether it be mass censorship and lockdowns, propaganda, show trials, political mob violence, attempts to disarm the citizenry, or economic policies leading to food shortages and rapid inflation, continue to more closely resemble actual Stalinist communism. And every sign is that the left's behavior is only going to continue in the direction of matching those unexpanded terms exactly.

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    2. Deuce is right. This goes back to the left's inability to meme. Memes show reality or it's opposite with preschool clarity, while leftist language is full of cognitive dissidence (static). Conservatives try to stay grounded, they conserve the meaning of words for the very purpose of conforming their thoughts to reality.

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    3. @Billy

      "I think some on the Right have the same problem with labelling any situation, where taxes are used to provide social services, "communist" or "socialist". It's done so much that many ignorant people will gladly call themselves socialists thinking it is simply that: supporting of social services or the social welfare state."

      That is quite a good point! A youtuber here made the same point: by equating these more moderate positions with socialism them the Right unfortunately tend to generate on common folks a association between being a socialist and wanting to help the poor or having sane positions on economics*, making people that would never tolerate socialism seeing it as something reasonable and a defense of market economies as something a likely evil person could make.

      Here even a lot of politicians and personalitied that are not socialists at all do use the label and the ones who tend to criticize that are only actual socialists.

      *are these positions good to the poor or the only sane ones on economics? Irrelevant, all that matters is that they are perceived as so

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    4. I beg to differ. The right is really bad about flinging the words "socialist" and "communist" out there for anything that is centrally organized, top down, limiting of "freedom" or free markets, or done by a government actor.

      A lot of beltway conservatives and libertarians would call a traditional view of government communist. The folks over at the National Review call Plato a socialist. It's ridiculous.

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    5. @Tim the White Truth isn't decided by memes. If that were the case, then you should convert to atheism, because their memes are much more on-the-nose than Christianity's.

      Truth is decided by logic and empiricism.

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    6. Infinite,

      I did not say truth was DECIDED by memes. I mentioned them as a form of language that lends itself to axiomatic expression.

      Of coarse Truth has more profound foundations.

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  4. I suspect that trying to reclaim them is a hopeless project. Making a point of using them properly (only in their more limited sense) does nothing to OFFSET the improper uses. Not using them at all will leave the ideological over-users a clear playing field of (over) use. Most likely, a dedicated attack would be the only thing that could be successful. For example, take a case of linguistic inflation that isn't connected to ideology), the silly use of "literally" to become an intensifier instead of distinction against "figuratively" or "metaphorically" or even "unexaggeratedly." It might work to reclaim it by having comedians relentlessly make fun of the over-use / wrong use of "literally", e.g.: by using phrases that compound the silliness, such as "literally figuratively" and its complement "figuratively literally" in satire, and in outright mockery. The problem is, outright attack such as this almost certainly would not work on ideologically-based inflation, as it would be taken as a direct attack on the ideological theory itself, rather than on its misuse of language. And that would not be tolerated.

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  5. The right has done something similar with "communist" and "socialist", although it's harder to see since most mainstream media leans left.

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  6. So true. Let me add the word "fascist", thrown around by the left without any knowledge about its original meaning, or about those who seriously studied it like Zeev Sternhell, or Henry Ashby Turner.

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  7. The question liberal churchmen can't answer. "What does it mean to have a pastoral approach?"

    Does it mean to treat men as if their souls are at stake?
    Does it mean to "smell like the sheep" if the sheep are trads?
    Does it mean encouraging examination of conscience and subsequent confession?
    Does it mean bringing more people to heaven?
    Does it mean helping people to avoid the eternal torment of hell?
    Does it mean rescuing people from "this generation['s]" or "the world the flesh and the devil[s']" propaganda?
    Does it mean teaching people to be cautious about near occasion of sin?
    Does it mean people should be good citizens in the face of radically unjust laws about corrupting or murdering innocents?
    Does it mean recognizing and pointing out the leaders who corrupt the flock and preventing them from continuing?

    I have to admit I'm a little lost.

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    1. Bill Solomon, to be "pastoral" is to accompany the children of God as they make their faith journey -- where "accompany" means "condone anything they do," "children of God" means "everyone," and "faith journey" means "any belief at all, from atheism to Islam."

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  8. Linguistic Inflation just means that a language is alive and humans are continuing to use it. That is part of the utility of ecclesiastical Latin--it acts like "metric" language. It's meanings are very precisely known and they are used in the light of those precise meanings. There is no slang in ecclesiastical latin, there is no drift of meaning, no "linguistic inflation", because it is used in a very narrow way for a very specific purpose. If we used Latin for common everyday speech, then it would cease to be a metric language and would experience linguistic inflation.

    I have heard it described that this is what happened to Hebrew, which was a metric language until it became revived for use in Israel and it has since begun to experience linguistic inflation which tends to happen when a language enters everyday parlance.

    Interesting article! The snippet on economics has given me a lot to think about re: economic inflation as well. Thank you!

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    1. Scoot, I think what you are referring to is "linguistic DRIFT", wherein the users cause the language to change by internal usages being different: such changes MAY cause certain words or forms to carry less OR MORE information, it can go either way. This is not specifically inflation, which refers to a unidirectional change and which effectively decreases information flow.

      The fact that living languages DO in fact drift, does not mean that all such drift changes are (a) good, or (b) unavoidable. It is entirely possible that a bad change in the making can be stopped in its tracks by a sufficient push from those who are invested in keeping the good of the existing form. I would argue, for example, that we are seeing the first movements of a drift in the proper first-person pronoun to be used as an object in compound objects: In the past 10 years, I have seen dozens - if not hundreds - of cases in public (i.e. on TV) or in print where the user says such a thing as "he sent John and I a book". If this is not combated attentively, I think that in 100 years that construction will be considered "proper" English, even though it has no foundation other than a pure, out-and-out mistake on what the "John and I" rule is about. But it is early enough that it COULD be stopped, if people who know the difference were to decide they care enough to speak up about it.

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    2. To be fair, if it were not for the tribalistic political battles we see them several words would not get overused to oblivion. "Democracy" make the process of development of language quite diferent than normal with some terms.

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  9. Stop me if you heard this one.
    The English teacher told the student that his composition was good except that he used two words far too often. One word was awesome the other sucks.
    After a short pause the student said, “Well what are they?”

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  10. At one time, to call someone a “racist” implied that he was patently hostile to people of a certain race, and to call someone a “bigot” implied that he was closed-minded about certain groups of people or ideas. Accordingly, these terms conveyed significant information.

    There is a difference between "considerable" and "narrowly-specified".

    According to your not-quite-a-definition, it would be impossible for a law to be racist (for example, a law against black people swimming in a specific pool), because laws do not have minds to closed nor open. People following the law (keeping black people out of said pool) would not be engaging in racist activities, because of their intent in following the law. Yet, despite there being no racist intent, it seems ridiculous to saw such a law is not racist. So, we can't just limit the definition of "racist" to a certain mind-set.

    Today the use of these terms has been stretched far beyond these original applications.

    Conservatives often complain of the word being used in new ways, but always, always fail to offer acceptable alternatives. Perhaps a person of your abilities will differ. What's the right word, in your opinion, for societal and legal structures that act against people of a specific race?

    In fact, the words have drifted so far from their original meanings that today it is precisely those who are most prone to fling around words like “racist” and “bigot” who are themselves most obviously guilty of racism and bigotry in the original, narrower and more informative senses of the terms.

    You are accusing many people being racists who deny there is a biological component to racism. It's almost as if your racial essentialism were so ingrained that you can't see the disconnect there. However, i have every confidence this is not true.

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    1. You are accusing many people being racists who deny there is a biological component to racism.

      I am unable to parse out what you even mean here. The "many people" that Feser was referring to would be, primarily, those who are most vocal in advancing CRT as a model of thinking about things political / cultural. Are you saying that many of these "deny that there is a biological component to racism".

      Actually, what would it mean for there to be a "biological component of racism"? Does it refer to a gene (or a complex of several genes) that CAUSE a person to be racist, so that (for example) a person with such genes would likely grow up to be racist even in a world that harbored absolutely no racist cultural or political problems (i.e. if all races were equal in every cultural and political matter). I assume you do not mean "a biological component of race", which could be genes groups which might be held in common by people with notably similar characteristics like hair color, skin pigmentation, or facial shapes. Would a person who bears a "biological component of racism" be LESS culpable for being a racist, since he is not responsible for his own biology?

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    2. Cut us some slack,
      We can't all be literal geniuses like you.

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    3. In that definition, Feser was clearly talking about the term as applied to people. Just look at the context. I've no doubt that he would have a similar and sufficient definition for laws as well.

      Laws don't just make themselves; they are conceived of and promulgated by a person or persons. If someone made a law with a hostile intent toward people of a certain race, or in a way that was close-minded, he would be racist and/or bigoted. If you could show the law was primarily made with such a motivation, and the law was effective at achieving such an end, you could easily call the law racist/bigoted.

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    4. "What's the right word, in your opinion, for societal and legal structures that act against people of a specific race?"

      Explicitly? Racist. In Feser's previous post on racism, he does just that. I think he is talking specifically about people in this instance, "to call someone a 'racist'".

      http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2020/09/scholastics-contra-racism.html

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    5. Billy,

      Why only explicitly, and not implicitly?

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    6. Anonymous,

      I agree with what you said. I would go further: social structures did not make themselves, they were made by people with power for the benefit of people with power. When you go along with a social structure that was created by racist norms and helps enact racist outcomes, even if you are unaware of this, it has a racist effect. Do you disagree?

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    7. One Brow,

      Because legal structures that coincidentally act against people of a specific race can't be racist. It's just a coincidence. Asians are currently the biggest benefiters of current legal structures by a wide margin, yet that hardly concludes that the legal structures are racist against Whites. It's just a coincidence.

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    8. @One Brow

      I don't disagree that IF social structures were created for primarily racist/bigoted motives and accomplish racist/bigoted outcomes (as defined above), then the structures could be called racist/bigoted. However, those who unknowingly go along with them, while perpetuating them, would not themselves be racist/bigoted, as this requires some amount of knowledge and intent.

      But I disagree that most social structures are made this way, that those at top always and only seek power, or that we can even clearly trace the origin of social structures, which usually draw from many aspects of a society over long periods of time.

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    9. One Brow,

      Do you think legal structures are implicitly discriminatory against people who are raised in single parent homes, simply because they are massively over-represented in crime statistics, even if coming from a single-parent home isn't known?

      If, say, courts did what some symphony orchestra's did with musical auditions, and made the court case blind, so no one could see the defendant, say that they even mask the voice and do their best to disallow any reference to the persons appearance or ancestry (even no names), if a particular race is still over-represented in convictions, would you still say its racist?

      By the way, those blind auditions were stopped by some because it was leading to less women and people of color being accepted. Funny that, huh? They basically stopped it because it wasn't being discriminatory against white men enough.

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    10. B9,

      When someone is stepping on your toe, do you want them to explain it's an accident and they had no intention of stepping there, or do you want them to get off your toe. If you had to choose, which would be more important?

      There are clear causes and lines to many of the current social structures, such as segregated neighborhoods, that were the direct intention of specific racist policies. It's not hard to follow at all.

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    11. When you go along with a social structure that was created by racist norms and helps enact racist outcomes, even if you are unaware of this, it has a racist effect. Do you disagree?

      "It has a racist effect" does NOT imply that the person who "goes along with it" IS a racist, even implicitly or derivatively or indirectly. For example, the law might have a racist effect but ALSO have good, worthwhile, and legitimate non-racist effects as well. If, on balance, the good effects it has outweigh the evil effects, the person who "goes along with it" might be (and should be presumed to be) intending and willing the overall good in spite of and without desiring the evil effects, and this is not racist. (This is just what the principle of double effect specifies.) Furthermore, the person who "goes along with it" might be going along with it ONLY in the sense that there is nothing he can see available to him to change it, within the prudent options, and therefore he "doesn't change it" only because he can't change it, not because he doesn't desire to change it. He would not be racist for "going along with it."

      The latter situation is, indeed, VERY MUCH the situation with many laws and social structures that have racist effects, for very many whites (and those of other races, too). For example, suppose my neighbor is a (self-proclaimed) racist and goes around spouting racist comments. I would like to be able to stop his saying such things, but under the 1st Amendment he has free speech rights. And there would be far more damage to society to get rid of the 1st Amendment than to simply allow him to continue making those comments. (Yes, this is a simplistic example, but there are vastly many complex ones that have similar logical features.)

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    12. What is a "racist effect" or "racist outcome"? Is that Ibram X Kendi’s definition of racism as any law, policy or institution that produces unequal racial group outcomes (i.e. equity)? This is the reason 'antiracists' believe meritocracy is racist (as well as mathematics, logic, science and grammar). When merit is rewarded, certain racial groups do not succeed as well as others. It isn't clear what a "racist effect" is. What we can be clear of are racist acts, i.e. particular unjust acts specifically motivated by race.

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    13. There are clear causes and lines to many of the current social structures, such as segregated neighborhoods,

      I agree that there were segregated neighborhoods. Since laws were passed making it illegal to restrict home sales (and mortgages) based on race, there are precious few neighborhoods that REMAIN fully segregated by race, though the proportions of race representation still bears some relation to those old segregation methods. However, BY FAR the main cause of the remaining difference in different proportions of race representation in any given non-white neighborhood are (a) income, and (b) free choice (i.e. by people who could afford to live in a higher-income racially mixed neighborhood, and decline the opportunity, and by people who could live in an equally income-depressed neighborhood with a different predominant race, and decline the opportunity). To the extent that income difference is, itself, racially caused, (a) is a race-related segregating cause. But it is not a uniform one, evidenced by the (many) examples of individual blacks leaving those neighborhoods to move into "whiter" neighborhoods by achieving even modest increases in income.

      Anecdotally, I have lived in moderately depressed-income neighborhood, which was VERY diverse racially, and in a moderately middle-class neighborhood, whose racial representation quite well matched the national population ratios. I have brushed shoulders with a number of high-income neighborhoods, and not once have I seen one whose racial make-up represents FULL segregation by wholly excluding blacks, (or Hispanics, or Asians, ...)

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    14. One Brow,

      Do you support school choice? The lack of school choice basically forces poor inner-city majority Black youth to go to terribly performing public schools, perpetuating problems in majority Black neighborhoods that don't perpetuate (as much) in other neighborhoods.

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    15. Billy,
      Because legal structures that coincidentally act against people of a specific race can't be racist. It's just a coincidence.

      I assume you mean "unintentional". Either way, neither "coincidental" nor "unintentional" is the same as "implicit".

      Asians are currently the biggest benefiters of current legal structures by a wide margin,

      In what way? I have serious doubts that this is true.

      Do you think legal structures are implicitly discriminatory against people who are raised in single parent homes, simply because they are massively over-represented in crime statistics, even if coming from a single-parent home isn't known?

      Actually, some of them are. Those that require bail, the ability to mount an effective defense when accused of a crime, pollution-free housing, good schools, etc.

      If, say, courts did what some symphony orchestra's did with musical auditions, and made the court case blind, so no one could see the defendant, say that they even mask the voice and do their best to disallow any reference to the persons appearance or ancestry (even no names), if a particular race is still over-represented in convictions, would you still say its racist?

      If possible, that would reduce one aspect of racism.

      By the way, those blind auditions were stopped by some because it was leading to less women and people of color being accepted. Funny that, huh? They basically stopped it because it wasn't being discriminatory against white men enough.

      I'm aware that one person called for an end to blind auditions in 2020 in the NYT. Where have they actually stopped?

      Do you support school choice? The lack of school choice basically forces poor inner-city majority Black youth to go to terribly performing public schools, perpetuating problems in majority Black neighborhoods that don't perpetuate (as much) in other neighborhoods.

      To my knowledge, in most metropolitan areas, the well-performing schools are in completely different school districts from the under-performing. School choice doesn't help when all you choices are inadequate. Even when there is a difference, in a city like St. Louis, having your kids commute 45 mins to bet to a better school lessens the benefit. In a larger area like NYC, I'm sure it can help. Then again, NYC had some school choice for high schools long before it became a conservative talking point.

      Most schools aren't run on a capitalistic basis, and those that are seem to be inferior to those that are not. Introducing capitalistic paradigms into a non-capitalistic institution creates tension in the objectives. After all, some people are going to wind up at the poorer school, regardless.

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    16. Tony,
      "It has a racist effect" does NOT imply that the person who "goes along with it" IS a racist, even implicitly or derivatively or indirectly.

      So, you're more interested in personal exoneration than creating change, and don't like using that adjective to describe it? Are people supposed to sympathize with you on this?

      For example, the law might have a racist effect but ALSO have good, worthwhile, and legitimate non-racist effects as well. If, on balance, the good effects it has outweigh the evil effects, the person who "goes along with it" might be (and should be presumed to be) intending and willing the overall good in spite of and without desiring the evil effects, and this is not racist.

      Unless you can demonstate that the good effect is impossible to obtain without racial harm, it's incumbent on us to improve the law to remove the harm.

      He would not be racist for "going along with it."

      Such person should at least perform an analysis to verify that they are causing minimal harm.

      For example, suppose my neighbor is a (self-proclaimed) racist ...

      I don't advocate outing people for their opinions., and I don't blame harms caused by individuals on society generally.

      However, BY FAR the main cause of the remaining difference in different proportions of race representation in any given non-white neighborhood are (a) income, and (b) free choice (i.e. by people who could afford to live in a higher-income racially mixed neighborhood, and decline the opportunity, and by people who could live in an equally income-depressed neighborhood with a different predominant race, and decline the opportunity).

      You forgot to include the effects of housing appreciation on the ability to afford more expensive neighborhoods. In non-redlined areas, housing values rose and created wealth for their owners. In redlined neighborhoods, which were often set aside in environmentally unfriendly areas, housing values stalled. This affect not only the ability to trade up, but also local schools, libraries, etc. None of these effects ended when red-lining went away.

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    17. So, you're more interested in personal exoneration than creating change, and don't like using that adjective to describe it?

      I am not "intent on exoneration" as such, I am intent on doing the most good and least harm possible (where "possible" takes into account REAL constraints and is not pie-in-the-sky imaginary).

      Unless you can demonstate that the good effect is impossible to obtain without racial harm, it's incumbent on us to improve the law to remove the harm.

      There are two competing goals here: eradicating a known evil, and preserving a known good. The principle of double effect, which applies to such cases, assumes as a criterion that the good cannot be achieved without the harm being allowed also. Where there IS a method for the good to be achieved without the harm, "double-effect" has no bearing and you just use that method.

      You are posing an added constraint about the epistemic problem of knowing whether the good can or cannot be achieved without the evil. This problem attends ALL prudential moral judgments, and constitutes no distinctive elements of difficulty for the double-effect cases: probable reasoning, preponderance of the evidence, etc apply. However, the conservative principle stands as a modeling standard: that custom and long practice are in themselves conducive to certain social goods, and therefore should not be upset unless it is established that the change will produce harms less damaging than the goods that will be achieved. The "establishing" will, normally, entail the same prudential reasoning with projections of probable outcomes, i.e. probable reasoning, and not absolute proof.

      Hence, where there is a law or custom that was clearly made from the beginning with racist animus as its motivation, there may be a fairly strong presumption that changing that law will cause fewer evils (relatively speaking) and bring good than most other changes, but the prudential balancing must still be carried out. Where the law was NOT clearly made with a racist motivation, there will be less reason to make that presumption and more cases are likely to pose difficulties as to whether changing the law brings more good than evil.

      Delete
    18. Tony,

      I read you comment, and I believe I largely agree with it. thank you for the dialogue.

      Delete
  11. And the result of such linguistic inflation is most likely to result in an increasing number of genuine instances of racism, bigotry, awesomeness, etc also being met with yawns and eye-rolling, as with the boy who cried wolf.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Tony,

    I meant to thank you earlier for pointing out my lack of clarity. I should have said something closer to 'You are accusing many people being racists who deny that there is a meaningful biological feature that justifies creating a separate group for humans'.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sure thing. And thanks for this clarification / adjustment.

      Would it be a useful addition to your "closer to" adjustment, to add to it "You are accusing many people of being racists who deny that there is a meaningful biological feature that justifies coordinately meaningfully separate groups of humans for separate treatment"?

      Here's an example of what I mean: one might posit that "Having dark-pigmented skin IS a distinction from having lightly-pigmented skin, but it is not a meaningful distinction justifying different treatment." But someone might reply that "well, in MY case it is, because my employment advertisement was intended to get applicants for commercials for sunscreen, and in that context, skin pigment is indeed meaningful for different treatment. If I employ someone who naturally has very dark skin, I cannot show the manifest difference between using the sunscreen and not using it on him." That would imply that "meaninful" really depends on circumstances. Similarly, it would seem to be idiotic to demand that a medical researcher use as a sample population just as many whites as blacks for a drug testing prevention of cycle cell anemia effects.

      The point, I think, is that difference in skin pigment doesn't have a meaningful relationship to an appropriately-judged difference in treatment, in a vastly huge range of social and legal interactions.

      Delete
    2. Tony,

      Even in your example, as you should know given your experience, there actually would be a difference between using sunscreen and not using it.

      Is there a difference in how sickle cell presents in people of various races? There might be important reasons for the inclusion of white people.

      Overall, I agree with you in what should be.

      Delete
    3. 'You are accusing many people being racists who deny that there is a meaningful biological feature that justifies creating a separate group for humans'.

      I don't understand this objection. It seems to be just straightforwardly begging the question.

      Delete
    4. Even in your example, as you should know given your experience, there actually would be a difference between using sunscreen and not using it.

      Absolutely: black people need protection from UV rays too. My point is that the VISUAL difference is not as readily apparent on darkly-pigmented skin, regardless of the race of that person. So someone making a commercial to visually SHOW the difference the sunscreen makes would not work as well with, say, a very deeply tanned white person, or a person from India with very dark skin, or a black person from Nigeria with very dark skin, or a deeply tanned person of Mayan descent from Guatemala.

      Delete
    5. Ian,

      As I understand it, racism creates a separation into groups based on biological criteria. If a mind accepts there is no meaningful biological criteria with which to segregation, the conditions which allow racism do not exist in that mind.

      Delete
    6. One Brow,

      That would be precisely what would be disputed though: whether or not the fact that one denies that there are meaningful biological criteria with which to distinguish groups entails that he cannot be guilty of racism.

      One could imagine an interlocutor for instance charging that his very rejection of the reality of racial distinctions is racist because it refuses to acknowledge a key feature of people's identities.

      (Whether this interlocutor is right or wrong is not the point, I'm only pointing out that he has been given no reason to accept the premise.)

      Delete
  13. Billy,

    If a law is drafted that requires every person who has ever used a handle of "Billy" in a comment section to pay $1000 extra in taxes every year, do you really think that 1) such things happen by accident, and 2) even if it were unintentional, does that really matter to you when your forking over the $1000?

    I am curious how you think "Asians are currently the biggest benefiters of current legal structures by a wide margin". That's not what I see at all.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. One Brow,

      You are designating explicitly the handle, "Billy". There is nothing implicit about it. If, say, it applied to all people who started using any handle at all in a certain period of time, and "Billy" was overrepresented in that time period, then it could easily be an accident. More investigation could indicate it's not an accident though, but the mere overrepresentation isn't enough by itself to imply anything.

      Asians are, by a wide margin, the most successful racial group in America. They are overrepresented in practically every positive statistic there is, and underrepresented in practically every negative statistic there is. This even applies across different socio-economic statuses. Related to legal structures, in criminal convictions alone, Asians are the most underrepresented, being 5.9% of the population, but only 1.5% of all convictions. The mere underrepresentation of a race, or mere overrepresentation, doesn't by itself prove any explicit or implicit bias.

      Delete
    2. Billy,

      Just because I used it explicitly does not mean a hypothetical law would. It might use some combination of letter values in fancy ways, with "Billy" being an unintended consequence. At any rate, you did not answer my question.

      Many Asian came to this country with degrees, funding from family or other sources, etc. They came in as middle- or upper-class people, and slightly underperformed for their original social status. None of this is related to their legal status.

      Delete
    3. One Brow,

      If it's unintended, it is by accident. And would it matter to me that its unintended? Nope, but it doesn't mean I should assume it is discriminatory against me.

      How about this real life example that just showed up in the last few days. Bow and Arrows coffee roasters literally just put an ad out on Instagram for staff, with the last line stating "yt CIS males are back of the line"

      Is that racist, sexist, and cis-phobic?

      BTW, they removed it and apologized to "LGBTQ2SP+ & BIPOC communities that may have read our de-prioritizing the hiring of CIS white males as therefore a requisite for outing oneself if not presenting or as passing as white and CIS."

      I wish I was making this up. It's now racist to everyone except whites to explicitly de-prioritize white people over everyone else.

      As for your point about Asians, again, they still perform better than any other race, even whites. Whites have dramatically dropped off, if we are looking at status over time. Clearly, the system is benefitting them more so than any other race. I'm not sure about your point about legal status. Generally, everyone has equal legal status in America today (except when the Biden administration tried to exclude white farmers, and only white farmers from stimulus packages last year).

      Delete
    4. Billy,

      If something treats you differently based on your internet handle, it's discriminatory regardless of intention.

      https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/discriminate

      Is that racist, sexist, and cis-phobic?

      When the people in question become oppressed minorities, then yes.

      I wish I was making this up. It's now racist to everyone except whites to explicitly de-prioritize white people over everyone else.

      That's not what the apology said. It said that people's right to deal with oppression by not coming out should be respected.

      As for your point about Asians, again, they still perform better than any other race, even whites.

      This has been studied. When you adjust for economic status, education, etc., Asians don't outperform white people. Have you ever looked up the "model minority" syndrome?

      Delete
    5. "Is that racist, sexist, and cis-phobic?"

      When the people in question become oppressed minorities, then yes.


      This is the fundamental flaw in progressive thinking. It discriminates against individuals based on race, sex, and gender, which indeed is racist, sexist, and in this case cis-phobic. It doesn't somehow become okay just because the victims of discrimination are not perceived to be "oppressed" by certain people.

      Delete
    6. This Asians are smart meme needs to die.

      Delete
    7. Anonymous,

      Flowing into the oppressive vectors of society feeds oppression, fighting those vectors lessens oppression. It's not complicated.

      Delete
    8. Flowing into the oppressive vectors of society feeds oppression, fighting those vectors lessens oppression. It's not complicated.

      So you're saying that hiring a straight white male is participating in oppression, but discriminating against them due to those traits is perfectly acceptable? Because that is seriously repugnant on a moral level, utterly unfair to any white male, and blatantly racist and sexist.

      Seeing as how that would be an awful belief, I assume that's not what you are saying, but I'm not able to come up with an alternative explanation.

      Delete
    9. Anonymous,

      Hiring a straight white male is not necessarily participating in oppression, while discriminating against those traits might not be fighting it.

      However, as a white, cishet male I've received so benefits from that status over the course of my life that it would border on whiny neuroticism to insist that I could never be disadvantaged in some minor way as compensation. I wish I saw some sign that you cared about the seriously repugnant, utterly unfair, awful treatment dished out to people who are not white, cishet males, but right now you are coming across as someone standing on the hilltop and angry that it's not higher.

      Delete
    10. However, as a white, cishet male I've received so benefits from that status over the course of my life that it would border on whiny neuroticism to insist that I could never be disadvantaged in some minor way as compensation.

      That you think not only do these traits define you, but somehow make you deserving of discrimination, is a mindset I will never share. You don't deserve to be discriminated against except over behavior or things under your control.

      I wish I saw some sign that you cared about the seriously repugnant, utterly unfair, awful treatment dished out to people who are not white, cishet males, but right now you are coming across as someone standing on the hilltop and angry that it's not higher.

      The only hill I'm standing on is the one for people who oppose all discrimination based on uncontrollable demographic traits like skin color or sex, which means that yes, I absolutely do care about those things. I would venture to say I care about it more than you since I apply the same concern to white straight males, while you don't seem to care if they get discriminated against.

      Such discrimination is morally wrong. Every time.

      Delete
    11. "You don't deserve to be discriminated against except over behavior or things under your control... I apply the same concern to white straight males, while you don't seem to care if they get discriminated against."

      Very well said Anonymous.
      Discrimination on the basis of characteristics over which an individual has no control (race, sex, etc...) is always immoral, period.
      The end can never justify the means.
      The rights of an innocent person can never be sacrificed for the, alleged and hypothetical, good of the group.
      We must always treat each other as indivuals, as persons, not as members of groups.

      Delete
    12. Anonymous,
      That you think not only do these traits define you, but somehow make you deserving of discrimination, is a mindset I will never share.

      The definition of me includes how other people relate to me, and those aspects of me affect how other people relate to me. This is unfortunate, yet unavoidable and completely real. "Deserving" has nothing to do with it.

      You don't deserve to be discriminated against except over behavior or things under your control.

      I also did not deserve to be discriminated in favor of. Yet it has happened, time and again. It's notable how you are so concerned with the injustice of the minor occurrences of "against", yet so cavalier about the more sizable instances of "in favor of". This is a perfect example of the type of neurotic whininess I referred to earlier.

      The only hill I'm standing on is the one for people who oppose all discrimination based on uncontrollable demographic traits like skin color or sex, which means that yes, I absolutely do care about those things.

      Spoken like a man on the top of the hill.

      I would venture to say I care about it more than you since I apply the same concern to white straight males, while you don't seem to care if they get discriminated against.

      Such discrimination is morally wrong. Every time.


      AFAICT, you only care about the discrimination you notice, which is the one that affects people that look like you.

      Delete
    13. Jonatan Blais,

      When discrimination against the oppressed is eliminated, you'll find discrimination against white cishet males disappears at the same time. It'll be like magic to you.

      Delete
    14. If, as it seems to be the case, you really see people as first and foremost members of either an “oppressor” or an “oppressed” group for no other reason than their unchosen characteristics like sex and race, and you’re willing to discriminate against innocent people of one of those group simply on the basis of such characteristics, then I really find your views profoundly repulsive and immoral.

      “When discrimination against the oppressed is eliminated, you'll find discrimination against white cishet males disappears at the same time. It'll be like magic to you.”

      And I suppose we should just trust your words on that ? By the way, if you think that western societies are full of “oppressed” people, you mustn’t have traveled very far. Go ask a few Uyghurs in China what oppression looks like…
      Throughout human history, some people have tried to justify targeting and discriminating against other people based on some goup identity by saying that these people somehow deserved it and it would lead to a greater good. This sort of ideologies have always resulted in horrible injustices and atrocities. It is our duties to oppose such immoral and rotten ideologies, of which “wokeness” is the latest incarnation. The end can never justify the means. Individual rights can never be sacrificed for alleged group benefits. Human beings are persons, not group members.

      Delete
    15. Jonatan Blais,

      When you confuse the context of a single discussion for the whole of a person's outlook, it's only natural that you will commit grievous mischaracterizations. I find humans first and foremost as apes with a veneer of rationalization laid over the top. I'd be more impressed with your determinations of repulsive and immoral were they directed toward the school-to-prison pipeline or environmental racism. Right now, they strike me as convenient and shallow.

      I don't expect you trust me on anything, hence "it'll be like magic". Fiercer oppression elsewhere does not excuse oppression here.

      If you really believed that it was your duty to oppose to fight targeting and discrimination, you'd be join the very groups you dismiss, instead of choosing sleepiness over wokeness. Human beings are suffering.

      Delete
    16. If you're trying to justify discrimination against some innocent people (those you call "cishet white males") simply on the basis of characteristics like race and sex, in order to favor some other groups, here are some of the fundamental moral principles (not exhaustive) you're violating:

      -Two wrongs doesn't make a right
      -The end doesn't justify the means
      -The rights of an individual cannot be sacrificed for the good of the group

      Hence, I find such views profundly immoral.
      You may not find that's a big problem since you consider human beings to be first and foremost "apes". In this case, I can understand that morality may not be a very important subject in this framework...

      Delete
    17. Jonatan Blais,

      In order to discuss two wrongs, you have to establish a second wrong. How many white cishet men were unable to find a job because this one shop didn't want to hire them? Some multiple of zero. Hence, there is no second wrong. Since the means caused no harm, they don't need justification. No individual has a right to work at any particular coffee shop. Again, your views on morality come off as convenient and insincere.

      It's because we are apes that being moral and ethical is so important. Our natural inclinations are base: to separate people into groups, to look out for our own, to treat unfairness in our benefit as fundamentally fair. We need morality and ethics to keep civilization from crumbling from within. We don't need self-centered screeching about imaginary harms; to many real harms exist.

      Delete
    18. Discrimination on the basis of unchosen characteristics is itself wrong and harmful.

      For me, morality is a matter of principles. You seem to have a flexible morality that you adjust depending on whether you consider the consequences of an action tolerable for someone belonging to one group identity or another. Again I find this profundly wrong and dangerous.

      You seem to claim that, since according to you (without evidence), no "white cishet men" has suffer signficantly from the consequences of discrimination, we shouldn't refrain from discriminating against them on the basis of their sex and gender. This is a very odd moral stance.

      If a parent has a son, who statistically is likely to become a "cishet white man", should he prepare the child to be discriminated on that basis in his life but console him by telling him that according to you, the consequences should not be too bad so its all right and OK because it might make up for some injustices suffered (often in the past before he was even born) by people he's never met ? I suspect the child would still find this profundly unjust and I would agree with him...

      Anyway, it seems clear that we have completely different and incompatible views on ethics and morality and I don't think any progress is possible. Have a nice weekend.

      Delete
    19. Jonatan Blais,

      It's great for you that you see a blind adherence to abstract principles, and this seems to work to your benefit. You don't want to care about injustice, and that works for you. I am quite comfortable not sharing your notion of ethics.

      If a parent has a son, who statistically is likely to become a "cishet white man", should he prepare the child to be discriminated on that basis in his life but console him by telling him that according to you, the consequences should not be too bad so its all right and OK because it might make up for some injustices suffered (often in the past before he was even born) by people he's never met ?

      If such a parent were honest and at all aware of the world, said parent would also mention that for every instance of unfavorable discrimination, there would be ten instances of favorable discrimination, and that railing against the unfavorable whilst staying silent on the favorable is petty and childish. Being a white cishet male is a great blessing in our society; great people given great blessings aren't greedy about it.

      Delete
    20. "It's great for you that you see a blind adherence to abstract principles"

      Morality and ethics are about principles, that's what you don't seem to understand at all.

      "...for every instance of unfavorable discrimination, there would be ten instances of favorable discrimination. Being a white cishet male is a great blessing in our society"

      That is completely false and I hope you haven't said such horrible things to any child ! Many of those you call "cishet white men" have suffered and will suffer a lot of injustices and undeserved misery in this world. What is childish and petty is to ignore all that for a simplistic manichean and marxian view of humanity with lucky oppressors on one side and poor oppressed on the other, which you then use to justify more injustices. I'm sorry but your views are completely absurd and dehumanizing. What we must fight is discrimination based on unchosen characteristics for all human beings, not just those you deem deserving of this right or only as long as it is convenient to achieve your collectivist conception of society !

      Your position is simply to sacrifice ethics for the benefits of your political objectives, again this is dehumanizing. Very sad.

      Delete
    21. "You don't want to care about injustice, and that works for you."

      By the way, this is very paradoxical for you to say since you're the one trying to justify the injustice of discriminating on the basis of unchosen characteristics...

      From my perspective, it is precisely the kind of views you are defending that is the one that doesn't care about injustice as long as it helps to further your favorite political cause and social engineering experiment. Few things are more dangerous in my opinion. So many totalitarianisms and atrocities have been committed and justified using that mindset...

      Unfortunately, one cannot morally justify sacrificing basic human rights in the hope that it would help reduce some socio-economical disparities or other utopian egalitarian dream. The history of the 20th century and current situation in communist countries like North Korea and China should be more than enough to save anyone from this sort of morally bankrupt idea.

      Again, the only morally defensible position is to oppose discrimination on the basis of unchosen characteristics for everyone.

      Delete
    22. Jonatan Blais,
      Morality and ethics are about principles, that's what you don't seem to understand at all.

      I understand morality and ethics well enough to know that it is unethical to leave important words, like "abstract", out of the discussion of what another poster has said. I see no evidence you do.

      "...for every instance of unfavorable discrimination, there would be ten instances of favorable discrimination. Being a white cishet male is a great blessing in our society"

      That is completely false ...

      So, you really are blind to and ignorant of how people actually behave in society, in a manner that only a white, cishet, male person would be.

      and I hope you haven't said such horrible things to any child !

      I never needed to. I raised my kids to be aware of how other people were being treated, and they noticed it all on their own.

      Many of those you call "cishet white men" have suffered and will suffer a lot of injustices ...

      Of course. Why do you think this is relevant?

      I'm sorry but your views are completely absurd and dehumanizing.

      I find the notion that all suffering is equal to be absurd and dehumanizing. If you are not making that point, then you aren't making any point at all.

      What we must fight is discrimination based on unchosen characteristics for all human beings, not just those you deem deserving of this right

      Fighting all discrimination would mean fighting discrimination in favor of specific groups, would it not?

      or only as long as it is convenient to achieve your collectivist conception of society !

      I don't think you understand my conception of society well enough to describe it. Certainly, "collectivist" is neither my current conception nor my utopian conception. You can put your Marxist boogie-man to bed.

      Your position is simply to sacrifice ethics for the benefits of your political objectives, ...

      Again, considering the ethical breaches in this discussion have been by you, I'm not particularly concerned with how you judge my ethics, nor have you any concept of any political objectives I might have.

      By the way, this is very paradoxical for you to say since you're the one trying to justify the injustice of discriminating on the basis of unchosen characteristics...

      There was no injustice to justify.

      From my perspective, ...

      At this point, your dialog is coming across as more rant/whine than a serious discussion.

      Again, the only morally defensible position is to oppose discrimination on the basis of unchosen characteristics for everyone.

      Yet, here you are whining about a coffee shop fighting discrimination.

      Delete
    23. "I understand morality and ethics well enough to know that it is unethical to leave important words, like "abstract", out of the discussion of what another poster has said."

      Ethics and morality are about abstract principles applied to concrete human persons.
      You on the other hand, seem to want to apply concrete political goals (equalizing outcomes across groups) to abstract group identities. This I think is wrong and a betrays a deep moral confusion.

      "Certainly, "collectivist" is neither my current conception nor my utopian conception. You can put your Marxist boogie-man to bed."

      The woke ideology divides the world into the "privileged opressors" and the "marginalized opressed" and claims to want to equalize outcomes (the new buzz word is "equity") accross those groups. Every aspect of human life is seen through this lens. Thus, the goal is not equality of opportunities (with which I think most people agree in principle) but equality of outcomes (a truly non-sensical but marxist idea with which most people strongly disagree). If that's not marxian in spirit, I don't know what is.

      The deep and rather obvious flaw in this, as it's always been the case for all the other previous versions of this mentality, is that it is dehumanizing because it treats people not as human persons, but as tokens of various abstract group identities. Hence, everytime people who think like that gain power, it ends up in atrocities.

      ""So, you really are blind to and ignorant of how people actually behave in society, in a manner that only a white, cishet, male person would be."

      See, the way you refer to me (not even knowing who I am) as a "cishet male" using a label as if I was a token of this group identity, illustrates my point above perfectly. By the way, I don't know where you live, but where I live, the vast majority of people behave quite well and are respectful of each others in general, irrespective of their sex, race or any other characteristics.

      "There was no injustice to justify."
      Of course there is. Discriminating against innocent people because they are "cishet white men" is unjust because they didn't choose these characteristics. That's the whole point.

      "Yet, here you are whining about a coffee shop fighting discrimination."
      I'll ignore the insult and I don't have any specific interest in any coffee shop case in particular. Back to the point, do you agree with the principle that discrimination on the basis of unchosen characteristics should be eliminated for all human beings ? Or only for non-white cishet men ?

      What you seem to care about is socio-economical disparities which you attribute to both favorable discrimination towards "cishet white men" and unfavorable discrimination towards all other groups. This of course strikes me as a very simplistic explanation for such disparities, which are certainly the results of numerous and complex causes known to affect socio-economical outcomes. Moreover, in order to remedy these disparities, if you believe that some form of discrimination are causally important, instead of saying that no one should be discriminated on the basis of unchosen characteristics, you're proposed solution is to reverse the discrimination: discriminate against cishet white men and discriminate in favor of all other groups. So you seem to be advocating for the perpetuation of the very behavior you claim produced the disparities you want to eliminate. It just doesn't make any sense.

      Delete
    24. Jonatan Blais,
      Ethics and morality are about abstract principles applied to concrete human persons.

      Abstract systems need to be evaluated against the concrete results they support, and discarded when they support results that are clearly false. This is just as true of ethical systems as it is of scientific laws.

      You on the other hand, seem to want to apply concrete political goals (equalizing outcomes across groups) to abstract group identities. This I think is wrong and a betrays a deep moral confusion.

      You confuse a goal with a measure.

      The woke ideology ...

      is as non-existent a unitary system as "the Scholastic ideology". To be "woke" is simply to be aware of the issue.

      "... divides the world into the "privileged opressors" and the "marginalized opressed" ...

      I'm sure there are a few souls who try to divide the world so. Most people understand that you can be marginalized or oppressed with respect to one feature and privileged with respect to another. That's what the concept of "intersectionality" discusses.

      " ... and claims to want to equalize outcomes (the new buzz word is "equity") accross those groups. "

      Again, confusing a goal with a measure.

      Every aspect of human life is seen through this lens.

      You mean, as opposed to all the facets of life that would be untouched by oppression? If a person or group were oppressed, what aspects would this not affect?

      Thus, the goal is not equality of opportunities (with which I think most people agree in principle) but equality of outcomes (a truly non-sensical but marxist idea with which most people strongly disagree).

      Again, confusing the goal of equity with the measure of outcomes, using little-thought-out rhetoric that could have straight from Calrson or Shapiro. The position of CRT theorists is that genuine equality of opportunity would result in indistinguishable outcomes. So, for the record, do you believe there is actual equality of opportunity? If so, what is your explanation for the unequal outcomes?

      If that's not marxian in spirit, I don't know what is.

      Collective/government ownership of the means of production? From each according to his ability, to each according to their needs (which blatantly contradicts the notion of equality of outcomes)?

      Hence, everytime people who think like that gain power, it ends up in atrocities.

      Please all the "woke" theorists you think have gained any power, and the atrocities they caused.

      See, the way you refer to me (not even knowing who I am) as a "cishet male" using a label as if I was a token of this group identity, illustrates my point above perfectly.

      Perhaps you don't understand people with features in common will have common experiences, but I find that hard to believe. Very short, or tall, people will face similar height-related challenges as other short/tall people, challenges that averaged-height people never notice in their day-to-day lives. Similarly, your discernment identifies certain characteristics of yours.

      Delete
    25. Jonatan Blais,
      By the way, I don't know where you live, but where I live, the vast majority of people behave quite well and are respectful of each others in general, irrespective of their sex, race or any other characteristics.

      White Southerners in the 1930s were very proud of how well-behaved and respectful they were to black people. To be clear, I’m not saying you have the same attitudes, I’m saying that your comment doesn’t contradict my point in any fashion.

      Of course there is. Discriminating against innocent people because they are "cishet white men" is unjust because they didn't choose these characteristics. That's the whole point.

      Sure, that's your point. You're just wrong.

      I'll ignore the insult and I don't have any specific interest in any coffee shop case in particular.

      The discrimination under consideration is the hiring process for a specific coffee shop (check the comment by Billy dated June 17, 2022 as 11:33am).

      Back to the point, do you agree with the principle that discrimination on the basis of unchosen characteristics should be eliminated for all human beings ? Or only for non-white cishet men ?

      When it's eliminated for all human beings, that would include non-white cishet men. Perhaps you should re-phrase your question.

      What you seem to care about is socio-economical disparities which you attribute to both favorable discrimination towards "cishet white men" and unfavorable discrimination towards all other groups. This of course strikes me as a very simplistic explanation for such disparities, which are certainly the results of numerous and complex causes known to affect socio-economical outcomes.

      What are some of the causes you see in play that do not arise from prior acts of discrimination?

      Moreover, in order to remedy these disparities, if you believe that some form of discrimination are causally important, instead of saying that no one should be discriminated on the basis of unchosen characteristics, you're proposed solution is to reverse the discrimination: discriminate against cishet white men and discriminate in favor of all other groups.

      I have not proposed any solution. I have noted that this coffee shop's solution is not unjust.

      So you seem to be advocating for the perpetuation of the very behavior you claim produced the disparities you want to eliminate. It just doesn't make any sense.

      I am arguing the opposing of a force with an opposite force is not unjust. I have no idea if it will help accomplish the long-term goal of equity or not.

      Delete
    26. "Abstract systems need to be evaluated against the concrete results they support, "

      The abstract system proposed by crt and other marxists inspired ideologies have been shown over and over again to produce misery and tyranny everywhere. They're among the worst kind of ideologies ever proposed ! So if that's the standard you use, you should reject it and fight it with all your might for the failed system it is been proven to be. And of course, consequentialism is a deeply flawed ethical philosophy...

      By the way, look at the history of CRT and you'll quickly understand why it belongs to the marxian lineage of thought.

      "You confuse a goal with a measure."

      Nice try. To measure how close we are from the goal I suppose ? The goal is and has always been equalizing outcomes accross groups. Anything less than perfect statistical homogenities acrross any cross-section of the population is seen as unacceptable because it must by due to discrimination. Don't you realize the absurdity of this mentality ?

      "The position of CRT theorists is that genuine equality of opportunity would result in indistinguishable outcomes."

      And this is of course non-sense and we know that it's false !

      "So, for the record, do you believe there is actual equality of opportunity? If so, what is your explanation for the unequal outcomes?"

      There could never be pefect equality of opportunities in a free, open market society. Children born of parents that are more intelligent, value school more, make more money etc..., will have an advantage. Likewise, some children are gifted for practising certain sports or certain art forms, they have opportunities that others will never have.
      Western societies mitigate the best they can by providing public education and health care, but it will never be perfect. Unfortunately, that's how the world (and human nature) is, whether you like it or not. We don't live in a perfect world. However, even if there was a utopian reality where there were perfect equality of opportunity, there's still wouldn't be equality of outcome because people make different choices and have different interests based on their culture, their sex, etc... Look at the number of female to male nurses vs engineers in countries where men and women are free to choose the carreer they like (e.g. Scandinavia).

      "Similarly, your discernment identifies certain characteristics of yours."

      You completely missed the point of the immorality of treating people as token of abstract group identities rather than persons...

      "What are some of the causes you see in play that do not arise from prior acts of discrimination?"

      The idea that someone's socio-economical situation is only and purely determined by discrimination (positive or negative) based on unchosen characteristics like sex and race is obviously false and absurd. If you really believe that, then we don't live on the same planet.

      "I am arguing the opposing of a force with an opposite force is not unjust. I have no idea if it will help accomplish the long-term goal of equity or not."

      Yes. You've confirmed what I was saying earlier. You justify and rationalize discrimination by saying that it is a way to achieve your political goals. Even admitting that it might not succeed in achieving that goal but it's worth trying anyway ! For you, the end really justifies the means...

      ""Of course there is. Discriminating against innocent people because they are "cishet white men" is unjust because they didn't choose these characteristics. That's the whole point."

      Sure, that's your point. You're just wrong."

      It's the fact that people have no control over these characteristics which makes discriminating on that basis unjust. Unjust because people have no control over them. So it's unjust to make them suffer negative consequences for something over which they have no control. I'm sure you can see that.

      Oh and by the way, you haven't answered my question:
      Do you agree with the principle that discrimination on the basis of unchosen characteristics should be eliminated for all human beings ?

      Delete
    27. Jonatan Blais,
      The abstract system proposed by crt ...

      Please name an actual CRTist and a system they propose. You can start here, if you're not sure where to look: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Critical_race_theory

      And of course, consequentialism is a deeply flawed ethical philosophy...

      Of course, all ethical philosophies are deeply flawed as the result of our being human.

      By the way, look at the history of CRT and you'll quickly understand why it belongs to the marxian lineage of thought.

      No doubt you'll be able to find a more substantive link than the use of the word "critical".

      Nice try. To measure how close we are from the goal I suppose ? The goal is and has always been equalizing outcomes accross groups. Anything less than perfect statistical homogenities acrross any cross-section of the population is seen as unacceptable because it must by due to discrimination. Don't you realize the absurdity of this mentality ?

      We are discussing large groups. Within each group, there are more and less successful individuals. This does not explain group differences.

      No one expects perfection. However, whenever we see persistent, significant, meaningful differences in measurements over a large group, we expect there to be causes and reasons for these differences. If one tire wears down in 60K miles and another in 80K, that's just two tires. If one group of 10,000 tires wears down in 60K miles at an average, and other group of 10,000 ostensibly identical tires wears down at 80K, we take that as an indication that something different went into these tires or they were treated differently.

      So, please explain why this concept is absurd. Is there some fundamental or substantive difference that makes it impossible?

      And this is of course non-sense and we know that it's false !

      How do you know this?

      There could never be pefect equality of opportunities in a free, open market society. Children born of parents that are more intelligent, value school more, make more money etc..., will have an advantage.

      Outside of "make more money", which itself has been the result of discrimination, which of these categories are different between black people and white people overall?

      ... people make different choices and have different interests based on their culture, ...

      What are the cultural and interest differences that create inequality of outcomes between black and white people overall?

      Delete
    28. Jonatan Blais,
      You completely missed the point of the immorality of treating people as token of abstract group identities rather than persons...

      People are treated by others as both individuals and tokens of abstract group identities. To focus only on the former and not the latter is to distort reality.

      What are some of the causes you see in play that do not arise from prior acts of discrimination?

      You didn't answer this question.

      I am arguing the opposing of a force with an opposite force is not unjust. I have no idea if it will help accomplish the long-term goal of equity or not.

      Yes. You've confirmed what I was saying earlier. You justify and rationalize discrimination by saying that it is a way to achieve your political goals.

      I said, explicitly, that I don't know if it would help accomplish equity, and you come back with me claiming it will help equity. What is the disconnection here?

      ... it's worth trying anyway !

      I didn't say that. I merely said it was not unjust.

      It's the fact that people have no control over these characteristics which makes discriminating on that basis unjust.

      Yet, over the course of a year, white cishet men get discriminated in their favor a hundred times or so (minimally), and you raise no concerns about that, at all.

      So it's unjust to make them suffer negative consequences ...

      The negative consequence of working for a different coffee shop?

      Do you agree with the principle that discrimination on the basis of unchosen characteristics should be eliminated for all human beings ?

      1) I'm not sure it's possible without changing the fundamental nature of humans, and I don't know that I would support changing humans in that way (there would likely be all sorts of unpleasant ramifications).
      2) This would require elimination, for example, all professional sports, beauty pageants, etc. Do you agree with this principle to that degree?
      3) That said, if we limit this to race, gender, orientation, etc., I agree that would represent an ideal position if everyone engaged in it. We don't live in that world, nor anything close.

      Delete
    29. "Outside of "make more money", which itself has been the result of discrimination"

      Is this a joke ? The only way one can make money is through discrimination ?

      "To focus only on the former and not the latter is to distort reality."

      Very sad (and scary) to see you confirm that you see human beings not as individual persons but primarly as token of abstract group identities, but I'm not surprised.

      "You didn't answer this question."

      This is so obvious that it's not really worthy of a response but just a few examples:
      personality traits, sex, culture, random encounters of people that influence our decisions, specific economic activities in the coutnry, region and neighborhood where one inhabits, motivation to work towards certain goals, peer pressure, various personal beliefs, etc, etc...

      "Yet, over the course of a year, white cishet men get discriminated in their favor a hundred times or so (minimally)..."

      I genuinely have no idea what you're talking about. We must live in very different places. I've never seen in my life a person being favored simply because that person was male, heterosexual, white, or cis ??! I know the opposite often happen through various quotas though... But even if that was true, the only appropirate response would be to advocate for this favorable discrimination to cease, it could never justify discriminating against "cishet white men" ! Two wrongs don't make a right. If I'm robbed, I can't go steal my neighbhour that has just won the lottery to make things even ! This is playground level stuff that all kids understand. I'm baffled that you don't seem to be able to.

      "This would require elimination, for example, all professional sports, beauty pageants, etc. Do you agree with this principle to that degree?"

      Lets not confuse discrimination with standards required to do a job or a sport. That's not discrimination. Discrimination is precisely when the criteria used to discriminate are not necessary to perform in the job or sports or whatever.

      "That said, if we limit this to race, gender, orientation, etc., I agree that would represent an ideal position if everyone engaged in it."

      Great we agree. That's progress. So if you think that ideally it should be eliminated for everyone, that must be because you think it's wrong somehow. May I ask why you think it's wrong ?

      Delete
    30. "What are the cultural and interest differences that create inequality of outcomes between black and white people overall?"

      Considering the history of african americans, I think it would be quite surprising if there was no statistical differences in socio-economic outcomes between blacks and other ethnic groups in the US today. Unfortunately, the burden of this kind of history cannot disapear overnight and will likely continue to linger for a while. I'm not american but I think that it is diminishing each generation, hopefully. As I'm not an american, I'm probably not the best expert in african american sub-culture so I can't really say whether and how it might contribute to some of the observed differences.

      Delete
    31. Jonatan Blais,
      "Outside of "make more money", which itself has been the result of discrimination"

      Is this a joke ? The only way one can make money is through discrimination ?


      Again, you leave out a very important word, and distort the meaning.

      "To focus only on the former and not the latter is to distort reality."

      Very sad (and scary) to see you confirm that you see human beings not as individual persons but primarly as token of abstract group identities, but I'm not surprised.


      Interpreting 'don't ignore the latter' into 'the latter is the primary feature' is also a distortion.

      This is so obvious that it's not really worthy of a response but just a few examples:
      personality traits, sex, culture, random encounters of people that influence our decisions, specific economic activities in the coutnry, region and neighborhood where one inhabits, motivation to work towards certain goals, peer pressure, various personal beliefs, etc, etc...


      So, you're saying that the reason black people earn less is due to black personality traits, black sex, black motivation, etc.? That where black people live is not the result of discrimination? If not, then you have not explained the group differences.

      I genuinely have no idea what you're talking about.

      I know.

      We must live in very different places.

      If you currently live in the US, we don't. You just haven't seen it the way you don't see the gorilla when counting basketball passes.

      But even if that was true, the only appropirate response would be to advocate for this favorable discrimination to cease, ...

      People do that, also.

      May I ask why you think it's wrong ?

      I believe every person is entitled to the same level of dignity and respect at a base-line level.

      Unfortunately, the burden of this kind of history cannot disapear overnight and will likely continue to linger for a while.

      Congrats, you're now saying what CRT theorists are saying.

      BTW, did you find an actual CRTist and a system they propose that has caused the misery you claimed?

      Delete
    32. « Congrats, you're now saying what CRT theorists are saying.”

      You think that the correlation between the wealth, education, etc.., of the family in which one is born and the likely socio-economical future of that person is a groundbreaking discovery of CRT ? Because this kind of rather trivial observation has been known for ages by almost everyone.

      You see, the flawed logic you and other CRT and radical-left ideologues are using is to group all those you call “blacks” and look at some population level statistics, and then say look, there’s a discrepancy, it must be due to discrimination, racism, etc... all of this at the level of abstract group identity and population statistics level. Moreover, one of the (incoherent and morally bankrupt) proposed solution is to perpetuate discrimination but reversing its polarity towards “cishet white men” ! Now the fist thing to say here is that the fact that when you aggregate data by categories like race, ethnicity, sex or whatever and notice some discrepancy doesn’t imply any particular causal mechanism. And the influence of the socio-economical situation of one’s current family, neighborhood, etc, apply equally to all people. Some blacks grow up in rich families and neighborhoods and those are likely to end up richer, more educated etc, some don’t, likewise for whites, jews, or any other categories you want to group people into. The fact that it’s difficult to break the chain of poverty down the generations, is not something that’s true only for blacks ! It’s universally true for all people. When you group people into some categories (racial or otherwise), some categories will contain more poverty, domestic violence, substance abuse problems, etc.. than others. And there might be historical reasons for that. To look at a current example, it’s likely that children of Ukrainian refugees will suffer socio-economically compared to the average person in the population, and that will continue to affect their children down a few generations.

      But that being said, the most important point is that the influence of someone socio-economical background only manifests itself at the concrete level of individual human persons and the decisions they make, these abstract group level population statistics are causally inert mathematical representations. So the idea that we should equalize those statistics by treating people as token of these abstract group identities and by assuming that human life is all but a zero-sum power struggle among those groups is both dehumanizing and silly. The issue is not whether some factors like racism, discrimination, or others can contribute to explain part of these statistical discrepancies, but rather if we can or should do anything about that and what kind of moral implications this entail for our view of humanity. To illustrate where this toxic and divisive CRT/woke mindset can lead, you yourself just admitted that it was wrong to discriminate on the basis of unchosen characteristics because “…every person is entitled to the same level of dignity and respect…”, but yet are trying to rationalize and justify doing just that to “cishet white men” by using guess what, abstract group level statistics that would, according to you, show that “cishet white men” are statistically more likely to be favored by discrimination based on those traits. As I said earlier, this morally bankrupt ideology brings you to violate basic moral principles (two wrongs don’t make a right, the end cannot justify the means, the right of individuals cannot be sacrificed for the good of the group) because it leads you to treat human beings not as individual human persons but as token of group identity. It should be an indication that it’s leading you to the wrong track. CRT is divisive, toxic and dangerous for our societies. Rather than bringing people together by emphasizing our shared humanity, it promotes tribalism. Very sad.

      Delete
    33. “BTW, did you find an actual CRTist and a system they propose that has caused the misery you claimed?”

      All past and present (e.g. China, North Korea, Venezuela, Viet-Nam, Cambodia, Cuba) far-left regimes apply the same dehumanizing view of human life where people are either part of some oppressed/proletariat/marginalized group victims or of some privileged/bourgeois/”cishet white men” oppressors and where the state is expected to do everything it can to equalize all this in the name of “equity”, regardless of the immorality of the means used to achieve this utopia. I know you refuse to acknowledge the marxian root of critical theory and therefore the link between CRT’s philosophy and mindset with past and present communist regimes, but that link is clear.

      No doubt that you’ll deny all that since you seem to be very committed to this ideology, but I still hope you might reconsider the whole thing for the morally bankrupt and intellectually incoherent scam that it is. Those were my last words on that topic since this conversation has gone for way too long already.

      Delete
    34. Jonatan Blais,
      ... is a groundbreaking discovery of CRT ?

      I didn't say "discovery", I said "saying". Are you capable of discussing my points without exaggerating or changing them?

      Now the fist thing to say here is that the fact that when you aggregate data by categories like race, ethnicity, sex or whatever and notice some discrepancy ...

      It's not "some discrepancy", as if it were a minor variation within the range of statistical error. It's a major discrepancy, where the difference in the means under various measures between the various groups is much, much larger than the difference of the means within random members of the same group. This implies that some cause exists at the group level that is not simply random variation at the individual level.

      Now the fist thing to say here is that the fact that when you aggregate data by categories like race, ethnicity, sex or whatever and notice some discrepancy doesn’t imply any particular causal mechanism.

      I have asked you to provide alternative causes for the differences in the group means, and you have offered none. Zero. Nada. Zilch. By contrast, social scientists have conducted many studies in a variety of ways that indicate racism is a key factor in economic outcomes, classroom and administrative treatment in school, criminal justice, etc. So, with you and your side offering zero explanation, and with social scientists offering an explanation of racism, I go with the explanation. If you come up with one, I'll consider it.

      Some blacks grow up in rich families and neighborhoods and those are likely to end up richer, more educated etc, some don’t, likewise for whites, jews, or any other categories you want to group people into.

      Black people who grow up in wealthy neighborhoods don't do as well as white people in those same neighborhoods. Black people who grow up in middle-class neighborhoods don't do as well as white people in those same neighborhoods. Black people who grow up in poor neighborhoods don't do as well as white people in those same neighborhoods. If your interpretation were correct, none of these things would be true.

      The fact that it’s difficult to break the chain of poverty down the generations, is not something that’s true only for blacks ! It’s universally true for all people.

      Sure, but it's even harder for the impoverished black person than for the impoverished white person. Both having difficulties doesn't mean both having equal difficulties.

      When you group people into some categories (racial or otherwise), some categories will contain more poverty, domestic violence, substance abuse problems, etc.. than others.

      Oddly, this doesn't happen (larger than statistical significance) when you compare people of English descent to those of German, Irish, Russian, etc. descent.

      Delete
    35. Jonatan Blais,
      So the idea that we should equalize those statistics by treating people as token of these abstract group identities ...

      The group identities play a continuing role in how these people are treated. Ignoring such treatment is just as irresponsible as using only a group identity.

      and by assuming that human life is all but a zero-sum power struggle among those groups is both dehumanizing and silly.

      I agree here, but the only people who cast this as zero-sum are people with privilege.

      The issue is not whether some factors like racism, discrimination, or others can contribute to explain part of these statistical discrepancies, but rather if we can or should do anything about that and what kind of moral implications this entail for our view of humanity.

      I agree here for the opposite reason.

      To illustrate where this toxic and divisive CRT/woke mindset can lead, you yourself just admitted that it was wrong to discriminate on the basis of unchosen characteristics ...

      We don't live in a just world. We live in a world where some people are favored and some people are oppressed. It is immoral for those of us who are favored to allow oppression to continue unchallenged. If we do nothing about injustice, that has serious negative implications for our humanity.

      That said, perhaps there are other methods of fighting injustice you approve of. I'm listening.

      As I said earlier, this morally bankrupt ideology ...

      Contributing to a moral injustice by not opposing it is a morally bankrupt ideology.

      “BTW, did you find an actual CRTist and a system they propose that has caused the misery you claimed?”

      All past and present (e.g. China, North Korea, Venezuela, Viet-Nam, Cambodia, Cuba) far-left regimes ...


      Did you find any actual CRTist advocating for a far-left regime like China, North Korea, Venezuela, Vietnam, Cambodia, Cuba, the Soviet Union, etc.?

      I know you refuse to acknowledge the marxian root of critical theory and therefore the link between CRT’s philosophy and mindset with past and present communist regimes, but that link is clear.

      What I said was, 'No doubt you'll be able to find a more substantive link than the use of the word "critical".' Did you? Lay it out. I'm listening, but so far you all categorization and no evidence.

      No doubt that you’ll deny all that since you seem to be very committed to this ideology, ...

      I commit to evidence and reason. So far, you've offered no evidence, fear-mongering, and empty categorizations.

      Those were my last words on that topic since this conversation has gone for way too long already.

      That does relieve you of any responsibility to back up what you're saying.

      Delete
  14. Oktavian ZamoyskiJune 15, 2022 at 12:45 PM

    If Barthes were to look at CRT, he'd no doubt see it is a remythologizing of American, etc. culture, replacing one myth with a new myth. Foucault would no doubt see a power move. But what myth and whose power?

    ReplyDelete
  15. Your usage appears to me to be an example of linguistic *deflation*.

    You wrongly suggest that the term 'racist' previously exclusively referred to those who hold an obvious and explicit dislike of a particular race. This is just not the case: the word has a long history of being used to refer not only to activities deliberately designed to persecute a particular race, but also to acts which unconsciously and accidentally discriminate. This is not a recent phenomenon and does not represent a watering down of the concept at all.

    Moreover, when certain politicians and so on are labelled as 'racist' - while I agree this can often be hyperbole - we should remember that ignorance is not often a comprehensive defence. There are plenty of people who, yes, do not explicitly dislike a certain race, but nevertheless support policies which harm them. If this is genuinely made in good faith, all well and good. But generally people should be held responsible for harmful beliefs and actions - those who do not use their reason to examine the world around them and condemn themselves to ignorance are neglecting their natural duty as a citizen to look after their fellow man and contribute towards civic life, and are thus culpable when their wilful ignorance indirectly leads to the ungodly implementation of racist policies.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Laudator Temporis ActiJune 16, 2022 at 5:23 AM

    A good post, but from what you say, why use "racism" in the title of your new book? Not that "racism" was ever an honest term: it was created by people who hated the Church, Western civilization and whites, and its supposed misuse today was ready to emerge right from the start. Were he alive today, Belloc would explain who was behind all the dishonesty and hesperophobia (hatred of the West).

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    Replies
    1. I don't think the dubious motives of those who coined the word 'racism' should matter: regardless of its origins, the term still points to an intelligible concept.

      https://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/2014/05/15/why-i-am-anti-anti-concept-and-you-should-be-too/

      Delete
    2. Laudator Temporis ActiJune 18, 2022 at 3:17 AM

      "Transphobia" is an intelligible concept too. It is wrong to torture and murder people for being "transgender." Should Dr Feser therefore write a book called All One in Christ: A Catholic Critique of Transphobia and the Trans-Industrial Complex? After all: "There is neither ... male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus."

      The term "racism" is beyond rescue and should not be used by anyone who supports the Church or Western civilization. For many examples of why it shouldn't be used, simply watch the continuing reaction from the left to Dr Feser's book.

      Delete
    3. I generally avoid using the word 'racism' myself, so I'm not necessarily opposed to your position as a practical matter. My main point was just that the word's origins are irrelevant and tend just to muddy the waters.

      Delete
    4. 'Transphobia' is an intelligible concept, but like unicorn, there are no 'transphobes'. A phobia is an irrational fear. I have not seen one example of anyone harboring fear, let alone an irrational fear of the 'transgendered'. There are incidents where people act unjustly to the transgendered motivated specifically because they are transgendered, but as with 'racism', this falls under the umbrella of tradition justice.

      Racism does have an essence, i.e. injustice motivated by race, but the public usage of the world is nothing more than a bludgeoning tool to silence political opponents. 'Racism' has been defined differently by the ADL, Ibram X Kendi, Robin Diangelo and critical race theorist. They are all extremely problematic definitions for numerous reasons. Calling someone a 'racist' today is name calling. It doesn't mean anything anymore and for that reason I also avoid using the word 'racism'.

      Delete
    5. Kurt,
      'Transphobia' is an intelligible concept, but like unicorn, there are no 'transphobes'. A phobia is an irrational fear.

      A phobia is also an irrational dislike or aversion to something. this board is full of people who, even when the question is how a feature of trans people something might be interpreted within a Scholastic framework, must immediately jump in to condemn trans people without answering the question in any form. That's transphobic virtue-signaling.

      Delete
  17. Hey, Dr. Fese. Will you be addressing the topic of race realism in your upcoming book? Most Thomists maintain that race has no independent ontological existence, and I wonder if you would agree.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Inflation is typically due to budget deficits and is across the board. I personally hate neoliberal economic and find anyone who studied even neoliberal economics who, at age 30 or older and still believes in it, either a paid hack or just stupid (I mean people who like myself actually studied it is higher Ed.).

    In a cost benefit paradigm neoliberal economics counts charitable monetary giving in the same category as hobby spending, which most North Americans know is a social duty if you have at all the means to. Giving money to help starving people eat or a poor family enjoy a decent Christmas is not the same as buying a video game for a hobby video game player. Neoliberalism is fundamentally a Sodom and Gomorrah doctrine of mindless greed: it teaches that selling hot air is the smartest thing a person can do. Study Microeconomics and see for yourself if I am wrong.

    Governments typically try to reduce inflation’s impact on necessities but end up actually increasing their prices. Hence in Ontario, Canada (where I am presently residing) one bedroom apartments are going for 1,400 - 1,600, utilities are 275 - 400//month (as high as almost 500 in winter) and a grocery bill is about 200 for every 3 three weeks for one working adult male or anyone doing physical labour who needs real nutrients.

    There is also a labour shortage here even though before COVID unemployment was the biggest problem. I suspect it is because no one is working as they become poorer for their troubles and so too many people are working at behind the scenes and under the table kind of work to get by.

    Abraham Lincoln invented printed money in order to pay Union soldiers, knowing full well no one would risk refusing to exchange their goods for that currency of a battle hardened war veteran. In principle nothing is wrong with fiat currency as such, just so long as the society realizes that it ultimately boils down in value to its own willingness to work and repay its debts. The second prong is that if government is going to inflate it must make sure its citizens are not effectively mass robbed or, in other words, that inflationary spending is not focused on benefiting a few at the expense of the many.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Abraham Lincoln invented printed money in order to pay Union soldiers,

    Fair enough as regards the US, but the IDEA of printed money long predated Lincoln. Bank notes were, in essence, "printed money," from the late 1500s. And there were earlier examples.

    In principle nothing is wrong with fiat currency as such, just so long as the society realizes that it ultimately boils down in value to its own willingness to work and repay its debts.

    More or less true, I think, except for 2 factors: (1) fiat money never became viable as a monetary system except by riding piggy-back on a prior system (and, I think, which implies that it rides on the social equity built up by the prior system), and (2) the fiat nature allows the officials running it to tend almost inevitably toward undermining the system on which it is built, because there is no built-in restraint against playing god with the details, i.e. by extracting value from one sector to put it where YOU want it instead of where everyone wants it by voting with their pocketbook. The pressure to play god can be virtually irresistible.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Anonymous for your engaging reply.

      I think we agree in most respects. But exactly who in U.S history was “playing god” by signing off off on more inflationary spending? As I wrote, the first time it happened was in the matter of basic justice and made the U.S richer (Abe printing to pay U.S troops).

      A terrible example was Bush printing to pay for nothing and to pay a few - effectively paying the same system and people Abe was using it to bypass.

      COVID printing has caused a 20 - 50 percent increase in most basic goods and necessities. It would have caused a civil war except that it was liberally distributed but the problem is back even clearer: massive unemployment. You can’t repay your debts if you can’t afford to even feed yourself. This is also the reason Western currencies have not tanked at all: everyone knows it has nothing to do with real North Americans willingness to repay their debts. It’s an artificial and unnatural systems issue.

      Delete
  20. There is a serious problem when people use a word that they do not even know the original meaning of. This happens with a word like "fascist" People in today's western world think it means a philosophy of right wing authoritarianism that advocates violence and racism. More often people just use "fascist" to mean "people I really hate" The historical meaning of the word is as a political system invented in Italy in the 1920s. The italian word "fascio" means a bundle of sticks. They symbolize the belief that the people are stronger as a unitary collective than they are individually. If this sounds similar to socialism, that's because it is indeed quite similar. Mussolini was one of Italy's most prominent socialists before he created the fascist party. The fascist theory was created by two Italians Benito Mussolini and Giovanni Gentile. It inspired the British politician Oswald Mosley who created the British Union of Fascists. The German Nazis had many similarities to Italian fascism, but they built a system that was far more focused on racial politics. The Nazis called themselves National Socialists rather than Fascists. There is hardly anyone in the world today who describes themselves as fascists. It is a name that people usually apply to someone who does not self-identify as fascist. Today people may think they know what fascist means, but they do not know its original meaning.

    ReplyDelete