Sunday, March 1, 2015

Thoroughly Fondling The Elephant

Reply to thread... Epiphytes and Economics

*************************************************
Well spotted. I now see there are plenty of references to "pragmatarianism" on the web, but they all link back to our friend Xero. Seems to be someone who has read too much Ayn Rand:grin:. - exchemist
Heh. There are more substantial points in this thread, and in other threads, that I'd like to respond to but... this one got a chuckle out of me. Ayn Rand is my BFF?

If you search my blog... "Ayn Rand" site:pragmatarianism.blogspot.com ... it might look like she's my go to gal... but in reality there are only a couple results where she's actually mentioned in the entry itself. The rest of the results show up because her name is included in my tag cloud/catastrophe/cacophony.

Not sure if you've seen this thread yet... LQ vs IQ?... but in the OP I mention the fact that my second linvoid occurred when I replaced my belief in libertarianism with my belief in pragmatarianism.

This linvoid didn't occur because I only read material which confirmed my belief in libertarianism. Nope. It occurred because I read material which challenged my belief in libertarianism. And not just a little material, but a mountain of material.

The material I read challenged my firm belief that we need some, but not much, government. In other words, I read anarcho-capitalist material. So why aren't I an anarcho-capitalist? It's because I also read material which challenged my belief that the free-rider problem is only relevant/applicable to defense, police and courts. In other words, I also read liberal material.

I simultaneously challenged my belief from completely opposite directions. And my belief, which was certainly quite strong, did not survive the challenge. It was not a pleasant experience. It was very disconcerting.

But I didn't become a liberal or an anarcho-capitalist. You know why? It's because the best arguments on both sides of my original position were really good. I couldn't ignore the best liberal arguments in order to become an anarcho-capitalist and I couldn't ignore the best anarcho-capitalist arguments in order to become a liberal.

So... I took the best arguments from both sides and put them together! Voila... pragmatarianism!

Now here you are saying that my problem is that I've read too much Ayn Rand! It's pretty priceless. My "problem" is that I've read too many of the best thinkers on both sides of Ayn Rand!

The fact that you don't recognize that pragmatarianism consists of the best arguments from both sides of the debate clearly reveals that you're not familiar with the best arguments on the other side of your position. And unfortunately, given how few pragmatarians there are, you're the rule rather than the exception.

If you haven't shown any interest in truly understanding your previous opponents' positions... then should I expect you to behave any differently now? Prolly not.

We're all blind men feeling different parts of an elephant and coming to different conclusions. What makes me exceptional is that I've been willing to feel other people's parts of the elephant. As a result, my grasp of reality... my picture... is far more accurate. This means that my conclusion is far better than the conclusion of anybody who hasn't been willing to more thoroughly fondle the elephant.

But this isn't about me "winning" the elephant fondling contest. It's about me figuring out how to convey the immense problem of our government not accurately reflecting the reality of the very best economic arguments. On the flip side, it's about me figuring out how to convey the immense benefit of conforming our government to accurately reflect the reality of the very best economic arguments.

Unfortunately, understanding and conveying are two very different things. I'm pretty sure that my skills at conveying aren't that great. Then again, they would have to be super great in order for me to successfully persuade people that it's a fact that both sides of the debate/battle have really excellent arguments. The arguments on both sides are so good that neither side will ever win... and even if one side did happen to win... we'd all lose as a result of disregarding, rather than incorporating, the losing side's excellent arguments.

Well... since I'm here I might as well take my millionth shot at conveying. The very best argument on the liberal side is the free-rider problem. It's really true that people want the most bang for their buck! So yeah, it's completely reasonable to strongly suspect that, in the absence of coercion, public goods might be inadequately supplied. Where it gets all kinds of wonderful is that the very best argument on the market side is that it's really true that people want the most bang for their buck! So yeah, it's completely reasonable to strongly suspect that, in the absence of consumer choice, public goods will be terribly supplied. When we take these two arguments and put them together... the result is pragmatarianism. We'll still have taxes... but people will be able to choose where they go.

The best liberal argument (the free-rider problem) is based on the best market argument (the fact that people want the most bang for their buck). The foundation of the best liberal argument is completely solid. And because its foundation is the best market argument... this means that the best market argument is solid as well. As a result, we're stuck between a rock and a hard place. In order to escape this predicament... we have to move laterally. We need some good ole epiphytic thinking!

Allowing people to choose where their taxes go is entirely consistent with, and supported by, the best arguments on both sides of the debate.

Perhaps it might be suspected that I'm highlighting a weaker argument on the liberal side in order to strengthen the position of pragmatarianism. Feel free to come up with a defense of government that has been cited more times than Paul Samuelson's Pure Theory of Public Expenditure.
Furthermore state spending is essential if you want a society that supports all its citizens through the rule of law and the avoidance of destitution. Assumptions of omniscience do not come into it at all - invoking such a thing is a straw man argument. - exchemist
Yeah, because it really would be fundamentally absurd if an assumption of omniscience was actually relevant. How crazy would it be if such an assumption was the only thing that prevented taxpayers from choosing where their taxes go? Really crazy right?

*************************************************

See also: The Assumption Of Omniscience And Benevolence

No comments:

Post a Comment