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Academian comments on Only humans can have human values - Less Wrong

32 Post author: PhilGoetz 26 April 2010 06:57PM

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Comment author: Academian 26 April 2010 10:06:09PM *  -2 points [-]

This seems implausible, because fictional Green utopias are almost always technical civilizations.

Not my downvote either, but I'm really shocked... it's simply not okay to quote fictional worlds as evidence. Sure there's lots of evidence that technology can help the environment, but fiction isn't it.

Not okay.

ETA: Whoah, okay, not only did I misunderstand what "this" referred to, but at least four other people instantly didn't:

"The utopian fiction produced by a community is valid evidence regarding the ideals of that community."

Gladly, I was shocked only by own ignorance!

Comment author: Tyrrell_McAllister 26 April 2010 10:18:15PM 3 points [-]

it's simply not okay to quote fictional worlds as evidence. You can get inspiration from fiction, sure, but not evidence.

I think that this is simply a misunderstanding. Thomas made a characterization of "the backbone of the modern Green movement." My point was that, if Thomas's characterization were correct, then we wouldn't expect the Green movement to produce the kind of Utopian fiction that it does.

Comment author: wnoise 26 April 2010 10:19:31PM *  2 points [-]

He wasn't quoting fictional worlds as evidence of what sorts of green technology were plausible developments, which I agree would be wrong.

Instead he was citing them as Greens who supported technical civilization, or at least sent that message, whether or not they believed so. This seems perfectly reasonable to do, though of course not strong evidence that the green movement as a whole feels that way.

Comment author: Jack 26 April 2010 10:18:57PM *  2 points [-]

I assume the idea was that utopian novels might be connected to the Green movement (with the contents of the novel influenced by the ideals of the movement or the ideas in the novel influencing the movement). But I don't think either novel has been especially popular among the green left and LeGuin and Robinson aren't especially tied in.

ETA: Wow, four responses saying the same thing. Glad we're all on the same page, lol.

ETA2: On the other hand, I know a number of environmentalists who have read Ishmael.

Comment author: Tyrrell_McAllister 26 April 2010 10:25:53PM *  2 points [-]

But I don't think either novel has been especially popular among the green left and LeGuin and Robinson aren't especially tied in.

I named those works specifically because they are mentioned in this paper (only abstract is free access):

Green utopias: beyond apocalypse, progress, and pastoral

From the abstract:

This article focuses on these utopian attempts to find routes out of the ecological crisis and map the possibilities of better, greener futures. I begin by arguing that whilst utopian theory has begun to consider the content of ecological future visions, there has been little attention to the ways in which the reflexive and critical strategies of recent utopian narratives can make a distinctive contribution to radical ecology's social critiques and the process of imagining more environmentally cautious forms of society. I therefore look in detail at two examples of green utopian fiction to analyse how they address the question of how humans can live better with nonhuman nature in the context of contemporary Western debates about the environment. They are Ursula K. Le Guin's Always Coming Home and Kim Stanley Robinson's Pacific Edge.

(Emphasis added.)

Comment author: Jack 26 April 2010 10:43:09PM 1 point [-]

Fair enough. The Ishmael trilogy came later and I suspect was more popular (but I don't know where to find that information).

Comment author: PhilGoetz 26 April 2010 10:18:17PM 1 point [-]

It's okay to quote them as evidence of what a group of people want or believe, if they're popular with that group. Green utopias should be correlated with the wishes of the Greens.