Right and Wrong

Nobody asked but …

Right and wrong are not sides of a coin.  Right is according to principle.  That which is not according to principle is wrong.  Ethicists like to do thought experiments that only muddy the water.

Take, for instance, the trolley problem.  The problem is defined at the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy as follows:

 … a trolley driver must choose between turning a trolley so that it runs over an innocent man attached to a track and allowing the trolley to run over and kill five innocent people.

But we make a mistake by trying to find a principle that will fit either leg of this dilemma.  There is no principle, and certainly not a lame one such as the lesser of two evils, a pseudoprinciple.  There is no right choice.  There are only wrong choices.

Relax.  The trolley problem is unlikely, but one may nevertheless encounter gray-area problems.  These usually involve two or more wrong choices, however, they may hide a good choice.  There are unnumerable actions that may have forestalled the trolley problem.

It is always a right action to follow the NAP — the non–aggression principle — do not initiate aggression.

— Kilgore Forelle

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Thinking and Doing Podcast & Should Social Media Police Speech? (14m) – Episode 287

Episode 287 has Skyler giving his commentary on the following topics: his new podcast “Thinking and Doing” that will explore logical fallacies, cognitive biases, Stoicism, and personal philosophy; an article he wrote in July 2018 looking at the role social media companies like Facebook, Twitter, and reddit should play in policing speech on their platforms; and more.

Listen to Episode 287 (14m, mp3, 64kbps)

Subscribe via RSS here, or in any podcast app by searching for “everything voluntary”. Support the podcast at Patreon.com/evc or PayPal.me/everythingvoluntary.

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Astra Taylor: The Unschooled Life (1h12m)

This episode features a lecture by Astra Taylor from 2012 on what it was like for her growing up without school. Raised by independent-thinking bohemian parents, Astra was unschooled until age 13. Join the filmmaker as she shares her personal experiences of growing up homeschooled without a curriculum or schedule, and how it has shaped her educational philosophy and development as an artist. Purchase books by Astra Taylor on Amazon here.

Listen To This Episode (1h12m, mp3, 64kbps)

Subscribe via RSS here, or in any podcast app by searching for “voluntaryist voices”. Support the podcast at Patreon.com/evc.

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Is That Woo Woo You’re Using?

I have a term I’d like to coin: “The fear of woo-wooing out.”

Should I call this FOWO?

Anyway, here’s the idea: the fear of woo-wooing out is when you hesitate to do things that are fun, fulfilling, or useful to you because your friends might think you’re being too weird, too new-agey, or too unscientific. No one wants to be accused of practicing “woo woo.”

Example: Let’s say you like to practice guided imagery meditations, or creative visualization exercises, or positive affirmations because they put you in a space where you feel more focused and motivated, BUT…you’re not sure if the scientific community has reached a consensus about how those activities affect human performance.

Are you being delusional? Are you engaging in wishful thinking? Is this merely the placebo effect at work?

I’m no Neil deGrasse Tyson, but here’s my two cents:

It’s not “woo woo” if it actually works for you.

Your personal experience is a lab where ideas can be put to the test.

Experimenting with ideas and sticking with what proves useful is not being woo woo. That’s being a pragmatic individual who understands the relative and real value of subjective experience.

If something consistently delivers the outcomes and advantages you want, you don’t need the permission of your local physics professor to do it.

As long as you don’t preach your personal strategies as some kind of universal philosophy that works for all people in all conditions, you’re entirely free to do what works for you. As long as you don’t equate “this works for me” with ” this is objectively true and everyone else should do it too, ” you’re safe from woo woo.

It doesn’t matter if your tools and techniques are quirky. What matters is your willingness to measure them by the results they generate in your own life.

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On Progressivism

Progressivism as a philosophy is about improving the human condition. It brings to my mind the old adage, “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” In my opinion, the only way to improve the human condition is to improve the conditions wherein a person may act. It is a false progressivism to believe that this requires government coercion. All that government can do toward the progressive goal is to get out of the way. Progressivism should mean “free action” not “free stuff.” Markets have proven far more capable at improving the human condition than any other mechanism. Progressivism which stays true to its principles fits snugly under the voluntaryist umbrella. It’s too bad that progressives are progressivism’s worst enemies. And that’s today’s two cents.

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Philosophical Tools: In-Group Preference

When it comes to with whom we relate, we may consider likenesses in age, profession, or status. What we don’t consider are their philosophical beliefs, or what is at the core of the person with whom we are meeting.

As humans, we seek familiarity, commonality, comfort. We seek people like us with whom to relate. It’s only natural. We develop in-group preferences, not a bad thing, but interesting.

The reason I find this interesting is that I’ve developed my own theory on in-group preference. I call the dichotomy: Quantitative in-group preference and Qualitative in-group preference.

Quantitative in-group types seek the greatest peer acceptance by keeping their beliefs vague and acceptable by the greatest number of people.

Qualitative in-group types by comparison seek peer acceptance by being more narrowly defined. They are more focused on the details, the obscure.

Think of this like those whom are fans of football compared to those who identify with transgender dragonkin. There is a distinct difference between the two, football fans are aplenty however dragonkin… not so much.

Although this essay is more conjecture than empirical, I have personally found this to be a tool in my philosophical toolbox. A tool which has helped me discern between those of with which whom I relate, whether they seek acceptance by the majority or by the minority, the broader the thinker or the more pedantic.

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