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Reblogged:Friday Hodgepodge

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1. Over at the blog of the Texas Institute for property Rights, Brian Phillips gives an interesting analysis of the thinking behind the anti-vaxxers who incorrectly assert that a business doesn't have the right to require vaccination as a condition of employment, patronage, or entry:
The anti-vaxxer's flawed view of the virtue of independence is a direct result of our culture's dominant morality -- altruism. Altruism holds that we have a moral duty to self-sacrificially serve others, that we must place the welfare and interests of others before our own. Though most Americans accept altruism, they also find they can't be altruistic and pursue their own happiness at the same time.

When the demands of sacrificing oneself to others becomes too much, many resort to the false alternative of sacrificing others to oneself. Those who do not want to be vaccinated demand the freedom to act on their judgment, but they seek to deny that same freedom for others. These "rebels" against altruism want to use the coercive power of government to force others -- such as their employers -- to sacrifice for the "rebel's" desires.

To these "rebels," somebody must sacrifice, and the only question is: Who? This is not a rebellion against altruism; it's an open-armed embrace of sacrifice. [bold added]
This is a timely analysis and one that even a few Ayn Rand fans would do well to consider.

2. At How to Be Profitable and Moral, Jaana Woiceshyn's curiosity about a book with a great title -- Why We Bite the Invisible Hand: The Psychology of Anti-Capitalism -- leads her to an interview that inadvertently gives us a clue:
Besides his first sentence about free enterprise, [reviewer Robert] Fulford's characterization of capitalism is inaccurate and therefore worth examining here. No wonder people don't grasp capitalism's benefits when intellectuals and journalists don't understand capitalism and misrepresent it. [bold added]
All I might add to the subsequent corrective, which I recommend reading, is that many proponents of capitalism are guilty of propagating the notion that capitalism is "chaotic."

3. Jean Moroney of Thinking Directions offers some great advice for anyone thinking about past efforts, be they successful or not. She summarizes as follows:
You need to celebrate successes no matter how small or large they are. This is not an automatic process even with a major success. Everyone experiences a letdown after success sometimes.

And you need to mourn setbacks and failures, and then do a post-mortem. Even a significant failure can be transformed this way so that instead of weighing you down, it fosters and supports your future success. But this doesn't happen automatically either.

When you choose to take a value orientation toward your past, you consistently strengthen your values, learn from experience, and give yourself the best foundation possible to succeed in the future. [bold added]
I personally benefitted from this recently when I considered a setback and realized how much I had learned from the experience that was directly applicable to other things I am interested in doing.

I recommend reading the whole thing.

4. At Value for Value, philosopher Harry Binswanger discusses a new idea that "supplements the Objectivist idea of the arbitrary." He calls them thresholds.
Fine for a lark, probably a waste of time otherwise. (Image by Waldemar Brandt, via Unsplash, license.)
A "threshold" is a lower bound of significance -- a degree below which something has too little cognitive or existential impact to be entertained.


... The arbitrary has no evidence and is asserted on the premise of "evidence -- who needs it?!" Entertaining the arbitrary is treating imagination as if it were cognition.

But the sub-threshold is different. "You have a 1 in 12 million chance of winning this lottery" is put forward on the basis of mathematics, not emotion. One could argue that by implication acting on this mathematics is emotionalist, but that presupposes the point about thresholds that I'm going to make: to grant significance to things with too little evidence or too little value is to engage in context dropping. [bold added]
This is a thought-provoking and fruitful analysis, with many applications.

-- CAV

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