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Comment author: Lumifer 13 July 2015 02:38:21PM 0 points [-]

you don't get to say "why won't you accept me at face value".

Oh, but I do :-)

The issue in this subthread is whether the call for liberty is a terminal goal in itself or is it a proxy for some other, hidden goal (here -- laissez-faire capitalism).

Comment author: homunq 14 July 2015 12:52:05AM 0 points [-]

I disagree. I think the issue is whether "pro-liberty" is the best descriptive term in this context. Does it point to the key difference between things it describes and things it doesn't? Does it avoid unnecessary and controversial leaps of abstraction? Are there no other terms which all discussants would recognize as valid, if not ideal? No, no, and no.

Comment author: Lumifer 08 June 2015 05:23:24PM 1 point [-]

it is and remains disingenuous to use pro-liberty to really mean pro-capitalism

You are not listening: wanting the outcome of liberty (at face value) and believing that there is an empirical correlation between free markets and liberty is a reasonable and defensible position. It's not even a bit disingenuous to be pro-liberty (at face value) and to believe that pro-capitalism is the best (some people would even say "only") way to get there.

You seem strangely unwilling to accept the pro-liberty inclinations literally, at face value. The observation that things are complicated is not a good justification here.

Comment author: homunq 12 July 2015 11:08:06PM 0 points [-]

Whether something is a defensible position, and whether it should be embedded in the very terms you use when more-neutral terms are available, are separate questions.

If you say "I'm pro-liberty", and somebody else says "no you're not, and I think we could have a better discussion if you used more specific terms", you don't get to say "why won't you accept me at face value".

Comment author: Salemicus 21 June 2015 10:20:02AM 0 points [-]

The OP suggests that colonization is in fact a proven way to turn poor countries into productive ones.

Nope. Provide a quote or retract.

What I actually said was that nothing short of colonisation is known to work.

Comment author: homunq 12 July 2015 11:01:55PM 0 points [-]

When you say "Nothing short of X can get you to Y", the strong implication is that it's a safe bet that X will at least not move you away from Y, and sometimes move you toward it. So OK, I'll rephrase:

The OP suggests that colonization is in fact a proven way to turn at least some poor countries into more productive ones.

Comment author: homunq 06 June 2015 03:50:17PM *  5 points [-]

I think that it's worth being more explicit in your critique here.

The OP suggests that colonization is in fact a proven way to turn poor countries into productive ones. But in fact, it does the opposite. Several parts of Africa were at or above average productivity before colonization¹, and well below after; and this pattern has happened at varied enough places and times to be considered a general rule. The examples of successful transitions from poor countries to rich ones—such as South Korea—do not involve colonization.

¹Note that I'm considering the triangular trade as a form of colonization; even if it didn't involve proconsuls, it involved an external actor explicitly fomenting a hierarchical and extractive social order.

Comment author: homunq 15 June 2015 08:57:35PM *  -1 points [-]

Note that my post just above was basically an off-the-cuff response to what I felt was a ludicrously wrong assumption buried in the OP. I'm not an expert on African history, and I could be wrong. I think that I gave the OP's idea about the level of refutation it deserved, but I should have qualified my statements more ("I'd guess..."), so I certainly didn't deserve 5 upvotes for this (5 points currently; I deserve 1-3 at most).

Comment author: 27chaos 05 June 2015 10:48:54PM -3 points [-]

Unfortunately, no-one knows how to turn poor African countries into productive Western ones, short of colonization.

short of colonization.

uhhhh

Comment author: homunq 06 June 2015 03:50:17PM *  5 points [-]

I think that it's worth being more explicit in your critique here.

The OP suggests that colonization is in fact a proven way to turn poor countries into productive ones. But in fact, it does the opposite. Several parts of Africa were at or above average productivity before colonization¹, and well below after; and this pattern has happened at varied enough places and times to be considered a general rule. The examples of successful transitions from poor countries to rich ones—such as South Korea—do not involve colonization.

¹Note that I'm considering the triangular trade as a form of colonization; even if it didn't involve proconsuls, it involved an external actor explicitly fomenting a hierarchical and extractive social order.

Comment author: ChristianKl 06 June 2015 10:59:44AM *  6 points [-]

To the extent this critique, it may be that Effective Altruists should focus on promoting a pro-innovation and pro-liberty mindset

It's quite easy to say that you want to promote a pro-liberty mindset. There seems to be a lot of corporate money invested in think tanks to promote the concept of economic freedom.

What's makes you think there a good way for EA's to spend money in that region that isn't already funded?

We also want some government regulation to prevent Xrisk.

Comment author: homunq 06 June 2015 03:43:09PM 8 points [-]

I think you can make this critique more pointed. That is: "pro-liberty" is flag-waving rhetoric which makes us all stupider.

I dislike the "politics is a mind-killer" idea if it means we can't talk about politically touchy subjects. But I entirely agree with it if it means that we should be careful to keep our language as concrete and precise as possible when we approach these subjects. I could write several paragraphs about all the ways that the term "pro-liberty" takes us in the wrong direction, but I expect that most of you can figure all that out for yourselves.

Comment author: ahel 19 February 2015 06:58:09PM 1 point [-]

Thanks, when I checked out your link it wasn't open for guests and now I'm happy it is. I can see how can be terribly helpful using complice full stack, but even as guest, it is still pretty functional and nice. Well done ;)

Comment author: homunq 04 March 2015 03:05:36AM 1 point [-]

It appears that you need to be logged in from FB or twitter to be fully non-guest. That seems like a... strange... choice for an anti-akrasia tool.

(Tangentially related to above, not really a reply)

Comment author: Lumifer 24 February 2015 06:16:24PM 2 points [-]

Some people find blemish-finding services valuable, some don't :-)

Comment author: homunq 24 February 2015 06:22:53PM 0 points [-]

Fair enough. Thanks. Again, I agree with some of your points. I like blemish-picking as long as it doesn't require open-ended back-and-forth.

Comment author: Lumifer 24 February 2015 05:24:21PM *  1 point [-]

Full direct democracy is a bad idea because it's incredibly inefficient

No, I don't think so. It is a bad idea even in a society technologically advanced to make it efficient and even if it's invoked not frequently enough to make it annoying.

whether people's preferences correlate with their utilities

People's preferences are many, multidimensional, internally inconsistent, and dynamic. I am not quite sure what do you want to correlate to a single numerical value of "utility".

The question is, is energy (money) spent on pursuing better voting systems more of a valid "saving throw" than when spent on pursuing better individual rationality.

Why are you considering only these two options?

I'm not seeing the connection to rule of law &c.

The connection is that what is a "better" voting system depends on the context, context that includes things like rule of law, etc.

Comment author: homunq 24 February 2015 05:53:47PM 0 points [-]

You're raising some valid questions, but I can't respond to all of them. Or rather, I could respond (granting some of your arguments, refining some, and disputing some), but I don't know if it's worth it. Do you have an underlying point to make, or are you just looking for quibbles? If it's the latter, I still thank you for responding (it's always gratifying to see people care about issues that I think are important, even if they disagree); but I think I'll disengage, because I expect that whatever response I give would have its own blemishes for you to find.

In other words: OK, so what?

Comment author: Lumifer 24 February 2015 04:58:49PM 1 point [-]

I do actually have faith that democracy is a good idea

Democracy is complicated. For a simple example, consider full direct democracy: instant whole-population referendums on every issue. I am not sure anyone considers this a good idea -- successful real-life democratic systems (e.g. the US) are built on limited amounts of democracy which is constrained in many ways. Given this, democracy looks to be a Goldilocks-type phenomenon where you don't want too little, but you don't want too much either.

And, of course, democracy involves much more than just voting -- there are heavily... entangled concepts like the rule of law, human rights, civil society, etc.

Comment author: homunq 24 February 2015 05:10:32PM 0 points [-]

Full direct democracy is a bad idea because it's incredibly inefficient (and thus also boring/annoying, and also subject to manipulation by people willing to exploit others' boredom/annoyance). This has little or nothing to do with whether people's preferences correlate with their utilities, which is the question I was focused on. In essence, this isn't a true Goldilocks situation ("you want just the right amount of heat") but rather a simple tradeoff ("you want good decisions, but don't want to spend all your time making them").

As to the other related concepts... I think this is getting a bit off-topic. The question is, is energy (money) spent on pursuing better voting systems more of a valid "saving throw" than when spent on pursuing better individual rationality. That's connected to the question of the preference/utility correlation of current-day, imperfectly-rational voters. I'm not seeing the connection to rule of law &c.

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