Q&A: Does your methodology work backwards from a presumption? (Sigh. Critique is Everywhere.)

A Question From Benjamin Uraminski

Curt, your underlying methodology seems to work backward from a presupposed solution, similar to an algebra problem. In this instance, it having already been decided upon that everything is inherently sexual so that the missing variables which reinforce the preconceived notion appear obvious to one who holds those beliefs.

I notice this particular Freudian-esque and neo-Darwinist methodology, that everything is inherently sexual, a lot in the modernist thought patterns.

To draw another analogy: how is this inherently different than the methodology of a paranoid, believing that everyone is out to get him, interpreting the facts his sense-perceptions supply to him, to reinforce the preconceived notion that, everyone is, in fact, out to get him?

[W]ell, Ben, I am going to assume that you’re asking a serious question. 🙂 Even if you fall into psychologizing (authoritarianism, ridicule, gossip, ad hominem) rather than criticizing the argument itself.

Either the argument possess explanatory power, and survives criticism or it Doesn’t. In the case of both Testimonialism and Propertarianism that is going to be very hard. And to criticize aristocratic egalitarianism will require only that you justify deceit and favor dysgenic reproduction. Which is a preference, I admit.

As for ‘working backward’ the answer is that I started with the very real problem of cooperation (See Axelrod et al), and constructed Propertarianism from rational incentives in in the face of opportunity costs. And like a good analytic I used every available bit of scientific evidence I could find to criticize it. When I understood that Haidt had pretty much identified the causes, and that I could map them to conflicts over the allocation of property rights, then it wasn’t difficult to use the work in his bibliography to develop the rest of Propertarianism: I expressed moral statements in the AMORAL language of economics.

As for psychology, the reason it seems like psychology is that it replaces authoritarian psychologizing(pseudoscientific) with a much more sophisticated and nuanced means of describing human thoughts as incentives rather than experiences. So to some degree (by accident) I do think that Propertarianism and Testimonialism fully replace authoritarian/totalitarian/equalitarian psychology, by extending economics (observations of demonstrated preference) to include the first principles of economics: incentives to cooperate. And in doing so I explain demonstrated political preferences in voting as a division of moral perception knowledge and labor. This is pretty profound really. And one of the best tests of it, is that the explanatory power appears to unite all fields of inquiry under a very simple set of premises starting with the need to acquire.

As for your analogy to Algebra, the differences is that numbers cannot make layer upon layer of intertemporally perishable normative contracts any more than hydrogen and oxygen can choose not to bond, where people can. As such we can exchange what appear to be violations of those first principles if in the aggregate we benefit.

As for methodology, which methodology are you talking about?
Testimonial truth?
Aristocratic Egalitarianism?

I am pretty sure Testimonialism will survive as the definition of truth proper from which all others are derived. That’s probably one of the most important insights into truth in the past century. It completes Critical Rationalism / Critical Preference.

To defeat Propertarianism would require some very substantial and what appears unlikely changes to the history of man’s development. (as we say, the framework of social science is evolutionary biology).

To defeat aristocratic egalitarianism is a matter of preference, although I argue that if one built a high trust truthful polity, that they would all evolve into aristocratic egalitarian polities over time.

So these arguments are defeat-able, but they’re defeat-able on fairly sophisticated grounds.

But then again, Marx built an enormous edifice on a lie (dialectical materialism) and a falsehood (labor theory of value). So maybe I made similar mistakes.

But like Marx, those mistakes will require ratio-scientific arguments not pseudoscientific (psychological gossip and shaming).

(Sorry for throwing the tease in there but I couldn’t resist.)

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