About: This is “Echo of Freedom, Radical Podcast (Эхо Свободы, Радикальный Подкаст)”. In each podcast episode a different issue is discussed. Each episode can stand by itself, but there is a direction of the whole podcast towards the complete liberation. Additionally this is the space where poetry will be uploaded.
Author: My name is VolodyA! V Anarhist, i am politically anarchist, ethically vegan, spiritually ex-buddhist, religiously atheist, epistimologically agnostic, artistically poetic, sexually perverted, and queer gender-wise. But this podcast is not about myself, but rather about my ideas.
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Fri, 29 June 2012
In this talk Sam Harris discusses his idea for the morality based on science rather than religion. This is a very interesting idea, and as such it deserves a response. In this Echo of Freedom, Radical Podcast episode i explain what i think are the positive aspects of this, and more importantly i provide my critique of this notion.
Direct download: EchoOfFreedom_111_2012Jun29_ScientificMorality.vorb.oga
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 7:59am EDT
How do you figure the train track problem says that? It really is an absurd "problem" to pose, though. First of all, it is so incredibly unrealistic, that it's practically useless in our real lives. I have never experienced, nor ever heard anyone ever experience anything even close to as miserable a choice as the problem poses. But, still, even in the luxurious realm of fanciful speculation, it is still very possible to make a moral decision. It is immoral to initiate violence -- so actively killing some people to save other people is immoral. If you don't have to actively kill anyone (if you're just forced to choose between killing 4 complete strangers or 1 stranger), or if you are forced to kill either 4 people or 1 person, then obviously killing less people is better -- although, again, they are both ridiculously terrible (and unrealistic) options. There is nothing inherently un-anarchistic about me not wanting to associate with people. The "get-out-of-my-house/company" argument is quite valid. Practically speaking, it isn't even close to the "get-out-of-my-continent/country" argument. Anarchism says nothing about being a "kind" person. Assholes are allowed. I'm not saying it's desirable -- only that it can't be forbidden. I would also argue that the power consumers have to control companies is infinately higher than the power "voters" have to control their very-real slave masters. (Slave masters who are encouraged (and do) use very real and bloody violence, daily, to control their slaves. Versus "capitalist" masters who have no such gruesome ability, per se.)
Train track problem talks about how it's often impossible to make a decision about the "morality" of the action by simply adding up all the consequences. And it's irrelevant how anarchocapitalists see themselves. I'm sure there are stalinists who honestly see themselves as the vanguard of the working class; but they simply aren't. In today's government the citizen has very little possibility to influence the decision making process, but has at least that little posibility; on the other hand an employee has no way to make an influence on the company one works for. In capitalist organisation there is no first ammendment, no right to public assembly and protest, no demand for a fair and impartial vote (where each person gets one vote). And "if you don't like it then leave" is exactly what nationalist anarchists say, and neither they nor anarcho-capitalists are a part of an anarchist movement.
How does the train-track "dilemma" help explain/refute any position? (I did listen to the entire talk. With "mplayer -speed 1.3" :P) (Anarcho-capitalists don't really look at themselves as "bosses over other people", but rather as "morally equal" players in a mutually beneficial game. Both employer and employee mutually benefit from their interactions.)
Actually i want to clear something up. Just because i criticise something it doesn't mean that i think that it's pointless or nonsense. Most of the ideas in this talk by Sam Harris are very good, he just didn't flush it out completely. He definitely doesn't use the track problem to justify statism, he uses it as an example of the regular arguments *against* his position. Did you even listen to the talk before commenting on it? As for Freedomain Radio, i'm not going to even to to their pages, i've wasted way too much time on that capitalist apologetics; it's a boring dead end politics ("we are against hierarchy of state, but i still want to be the boss"). I might look into the book at some time, and if it's not some capitalist propaganda, i might talk about it some more.
Good podcast. The reason people feel on-edge when discussing "morality" is because morality (or ethics, depending on how you define things :p) is something universal -- something imposable. By definition. However, the talk was pretty pointless, since he never went into any useful detail about what "well-being" is, or what exactly everyone should be maximizing. Nevertheless, even with the little he provided, it was still disturbing. That train-track problem he talks about, as far as I can tell, is only used as a sneaky way to justify Statism -- the idea of rationalizing the sacrifice of some people, for the larger group. However, it's a false dichotomy. We are not simply offerred only two terrible choices. We are offerred tonnes of choices, most of which do not involve murdering anyone. Practically speaking, it's a useless and/or deceptive example. Logically speaking, it's non-sensical -- a divide-by-zero problem. (Maybe the single person on the track was one's wife, in which case she would easily be worth the lives of four strangers.) So, since he didn't actually define anything, he actually doesn't offer any alternative view of morality. And, I have no doubt that the second he ever does try to be specific, his personal preferences will become glaringly obvious and in conflict with other people's. Does maximization of group health justify violence upon individuals? My guess is that he believes it does. My (and your) belief is that it doesn't. Because we axiomatically have chosen to respect the "treat others as yourself" rule. A far more useful and tangible analysis of morality can be found in Stefan Molyneux's book "Universally Preferrable Behavior".  http://board.freedomainradio.com/blogs/freedomain/archive/2008/09/25/universally-preferable-behavior-a-rational-proof-of-secular-ethics.aspx