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Thread: More Things That Won't Get You Laid...Philosophy

  1. #21
    Leia-Jakita-Arendt OnMyLunchBreak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lah
    Tongue in cheek, OMLB, tongue in cheek. Since you're a philosophy student (I assume), I thought you would've approved the thought of a philosopher in the seat of government.
    Ah! My mistake, I thought you were making a philosophical claim and not a light-hearted jest. I’m afraid my sense of humor is lacking.

    And yes, I am a philosophy student, excellent powers of deduction. +

    Quote Originally Posted by Lah
    Although, I must equally protest at the thought of an economist-king - the best option would be a liberal economist, but a liberal economist without such awesome powers is at risk of carrying out his ideal of free-market economy and deregulation to extremes, without insulating domestic markets against world market downswings (i.e. crisis of 1997), corporativism, etc.
    I am particularly interested in the ties between philosophy and economics. Economics has taken, to me, an equally odd turn as science and psychology. Economics is now practiced solely as a science or mathematical problem. However, it was first conceived of as a world view and produced by philosophers until recent times. I was fortunate to take a history of economic thought course which highlighted the problems of believing economics to be solely a mathematical problem to be answered.

    Economics is perhaps the ultimate practical application of philosophy. It makes moral claims – how should we distribute wealth, how one should earn wealth, who is deserving of maintaining wealth, what is value, and so forth. It makes epistemological claims – how do we know how to value something, how do we recognize a fair exchange, are humans capable of making such decisions? Economics even makes metaphysical claims – the world we inhabit acts according to a regular enough pattern that we can make and follow rules of action in the economic realm.

    Therefore, my “Economist King” would not be a Keynes scribbling out graphs in the back room aimed at providing the most for the most people. Rather, it would be someone who understands where economic thought has come from, its multi-faceted approach to the world and how economics fundamentally affects the lives of people every day and in every way. That is why I would see this sort of leader as beneficial.

    By “liberal economist” I assume you mean a classical liberal, a la Adam Smith. I think it is interesting that you would find this type of economic leader acceptable and yet you do not promote laissez-faire capitalism. The problem with classical liberal economics is that it is a product of its time – the Enlightenment. The heady days of the belief in a mechanistic, rational universe put into motion by a deistic God. The product is an economic theory which, like a clock, requires a clean, well-engineered framework that cannot be easily fiddled with.

    My pet theory, personally, is that the evil that has come to be called “capitalism” (i.e., America’s current economic framework) is not capitalism at all – but a mutilated form of socialist free markets which wants to have its cake and eat it too. A true capitalist system cannot support institutions such as the federal reserve, subsidy farming, social security or even extensive government regulation because they all try to limit the freedom of the autonomous system men like Smith designed. For Smith, the rational, mechanistic methods of capitalism would inevitably bring good to all levels of society through the ‘invisible hand,’ but trying to do so through artificial means would only result in disaster.

    I am not saying that capitalism is a perfect system, or that there are no better ways of crafting the world through economic theory, however, I think the popular notion that America’s “capitalism” is bad and that regulation is good deserve a second, and cautious look.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lah
    And really, is an economist the best candidate for directing policy? What would he know about social security?
    At the risk of being stodgy, I am going to assume that this is another joke?
    Last edited by phat32; 06-13-2005 at 07:43 PM.

  2. #22
    Lah
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    Great analogy, the hotdogs and molecules. This thread is ace, OMLB. I lurk for the recaps and stay for the philosophy, har.

    By “liberal economist” I assume you mean a classical liberal, a la Adam Smith. I think it is interesting that you would find this type of economic leader acceptable and yet you do not promote laissez-faire capitalism. The problem with classical liberal economics is that it is a product of its time – the Enlightenment. The heady days of the belief in a mechanistic, rational universe put into motion by a deistic God. The product is an economic theory which, like a clock, requires a clean, well-engineered framework that cannot be easily fiddled with.

    My pet theory, personally, is that the evil that has come to be called “capitalism” (i.e., America’s current economic framework) is not capitalism at all – but a mutilated form of socialist free markets which wants to have its cake and eat it too. A true capitalist system cannot support institutions such as the federal reserve, subsidy farming, social security or even extensive government regulation because they all try to limit the freedom of the autonomous system men like Smith designed. For Smith, the rational, mechanistic methods of capitalism would inevitably bring good to all levels of society through the ‘invisible hand,’ but trying to do so through artificial means would only result in disaster.

    I am not saying that capitalism is a perfect system, or that there are no better ways of crafting the world through economic theory, however, I think the popular notion that America’s “capitalism” is bad and that regulation is good deserve a second, and cautious look.
    I’m not so much of a radical that I think capitalism an “evil”. In fact, I’m not a radical at all. Capitalism, as Martha would say, is a very good thing. Generally-speaking. But I don’t believe in the panacea of the Golden Straitjacket (tm Friedman) to solve all of the world’s woes, and while a free market does optimize efficiency, total deregulation and floating currency can cause instability and widen inequality. I find a liberal economist (not a la Adam Smith, though…I meant more like a neoliberal economist, sorry) to be acceptable only because, well, what’s the alternative? An economist who believes in protectionism, economic nationalism, and command economies? Obviously not do-able in our era of globalization.

    As for whether our current economic framework is truly capitalism or a mutilated (geez, what a word!) socialist free market, that depends on whether you think capitalism works best as as a pure and absolute system or as an ideal with room for modification. Personally, I think the latter. Most countries in the world are now capitalist, yet they still follow policies for mixed economies, levy tariffs against imports from some countries, and invest in social security. Perhaps this is trying to have the best of both worlds, but what other way is there? Turn away from capitalism, and wallow in poverty. Embrace capitalism absolutely, and the state can no longer guarantee security for its people. I like to think of America’s current economic system as less a mutilated socialist free market than a “(relatively) happy medium”.

    At the risk of being stodgy, I am going to assume that this is another joke?
    Well, that was some flippancy at the expense of the hundreds of economists for Bush’s plan of private ownership and ss reform, of which needless to say I’m less than fond.


    It could, if you are not careful. However, moral relativism has a much larger flaw than that it does not have any absolutes. The flaw is that it ends the moral discussion. If you believe we should do A and I believe we should do B, and we are both moral relativists, the most we can do is nod respectfully to each other and go off to do what we think is best. This will not provide for a happy society or a fulfilling life, it seems to me.

    No, I do not think so. I think if you take moral relativism too seriously and grant it a political discussion, you might be missing the larger picture: that moral relativism is still assuming moral absolutes, even if just for one person, and that is a dangerous and erroneous position to my mind.
    Ehhh…no philosopher wants to be labelled a relativist, but relativism and constructivism does bleed into politics nowadays… and not for entirely invalid reasons, imo, being quite germane to the discussion of culture wars/clash of civilisations, and to the shifting of/alternative paradigms to our current international system. That doesn’t mean they always provide satisfactory answers, but sometimes they should be taken into consideration, imo, in adding to our understanding of certain issues.

    Also, I’m curious – you condemn moral relativism as being anathema to the discussion of morality. And yet, isn’t there something also quite relativist in Hegel’s historicism? That no theory is better than another theory, that philosophy is merely the history of philosophy, and so on? Wouldn’t ascribing to historicism put an effective end to discussion of value in philosophy?

  3. #23
    Come Along, Pond phat32's Avatar
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    I'd like to remind everyone that the forum is for "Books."

    Please continue this discussion of philosophy, which I think has been fascinating, thought-provoking and lively for anyone with an interest in the subject matter, but do try to reference specific works or to discuss specific works.

    Remember, too, that our rules forbid personal attacks against other members. I haven't seen anything like that (yet), but I wouldn't want the thread to venture into that.

    Let's take a Neo-Pragmatic approach to this, as a friend of mine taught me: Let's have a dialogue. We will try to convince each other that our take is correct, or we will compromise, and proceed according to that paradigm.

    Thank you for your attention to this matter.
    Last edited by phat32; 06-13-2005 at 04:40 PM.
    "...Every life is a pile of good things and bad things. The good things don’t always soften the bad things, but...the bad things don’t always spoil the good things." - The Doctor

  4. #24
    Leia-Jakita-Arendt OnMyLunchBreak's Avatar
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    Thank you for the reminder Phat! I will try to make any additional theoretical discussion linked to a specific text.

  5. #25
    Lah
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    Thanks for the reminder. Fair enough - I'll stick on topic.

    One of my favourite philosophers is Bertrand Russell (surprise, surprise...seeing as how I study political science, no wonder I have some leanings towards empiricists), but I’m ashamed to say I’m actually more familiar with his works on political philosophy than his seminal works on mathematical philosophy (his Principles of Mathematics being somewhat of a slog for someone who nearly flunked algeo in high school, you see) and Analytic methadology. However, Our Knowledge of the External World makes for an excellent, pretty clear intro to logical-atomism. And - even though I know his political writings are not his best work - I have to say I really liked Principles of Social Reconstruction. I have immense respect for Russell not only as a philosopher, but also as activist (he's involved in many anti-war movements) and writer. Philosophers, I find, generally tend to be indifferent if not downright awful writers (okay, there are a couple of exceptions), but Russell's prose is truly eloquent and readable.

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