Q&A: Curt, Where is a Virtue Ethics?


[W]ell, that is deceptively complex question. The problem of my (our) era, is the accumulated damage caused by the enlightenment failures on western civilization and our subsequent conquest by primitivism and primitive peoples.

I’ve enumerated the reasons for this failure elsewhere repeatedly: the enfranchisement of women in particular, but also of the non-contributing classes, without adding a house for them, who have used their numbers under the error of majority rule to transform our culture of heavy investment in commons to one of exaggerated consumption of every kind of capital: genetic, familial, institutional, normative, historical, and cultural.

****So I am constructing a (negative) political philosophy out of necessary limits, not a (positive) personal philosophy for the exploration of possibilities****

I will however, address virtues and a virtue ethic, when I finish with aesthetics – and personal philosophy will be the last subject. But why last? Given this philosophical hierarchy, personal philosophy one way or another must account for all that comes before it.
– Metaphysics (existence, for acting creatures)
– Epistemology ( knowledge, truth and falsehood )
– Ethical and Moral Philosophy (cooperation in production)
– Political Philosophy (dispute resolution and commons production)
– Philosophy of War and Conquest (when cooperation and politics fail)
– Aesthetics ( Excellence and Beauty )
– Personal Philosophy (achieving one’s greatest excellence)

Now, to put Nietzsche and all other radicals into position, he is rebelling against the status quo, and attempting to restore our pagan aristocratic ethos of excellence – no doubt because he found it in his studies of the ancient world.

I see myself doing the same. But from advocacy of institutional prohibitions (public law) rather than advocacy personal aspirations (personal religion). Or put another way, by mandate to all rather than choice of any.

Now, how is mandating a prohibition on parasitism for all different from advocating unconstrained vision for some? Well, in the sense that I don’t, in propertarianism and testimonoialism, advocate in favor of ends, only in favor of means of persuing any chosen ends.

So in this sense, I am trying to make it possible to be superman for the supermen, and secure dependent for the common fool who wishes it. THis is why propertarianism is ‘progressive’. It’s an innovation that increases institutional service of disparate needs and wants.

So under Propertarianism, I show that you can pursue excellence (overman/superman) without regard for the material contribution, normative apporval, or status signals of the less ambitious beings – as long as you pose no costs upon those others. And if you choose some end whose means requires an imposition of those costs upon others, that is not a moral question but an immoral one by definition.

If an immoral life (that violates the incentive to cooperate and therefore draws determined retaliation against you) then that is merely a choice. It is just hard to understand how it is a wise one. Or why one would look to philosophy to justify it. One does not justify immoral passions since they are outside of the moral constraint, beause they are by definition a violation of the demands of rational cooperation.

I do not say one cannot act immorally. I say just the opposite. That for the strong to forgo the conquest of the weak, there must be some rational benefit to doing so. The only reason is the same one that prevented the Khan from the genocide of the Chinese: it was more profitable to govern and tax them. The same is true for the rest of us with less power at our disposal: cooperation is not only preferable, it is necessary for survival – even if that cooperation is limited to a promise to leave one another alone and therefore impose no costs upon one another. That in itself is a productive, fully informed, warrantied, voluntary exchange with nothing but positive externalities.

—“I’ve noticed so much of your analysis is about evolutionary strategy.”–

Yes, because in the end, we need some means of commensurability and decidability between individuals and groups. While we are, by virtue of self awareness and enormous memory, capable of “enjoying or not life’s ride” we are along for the ride. If other than persistence, how do we make agreements with one another without merely saying one preys upon another? We need a means of ultimate choice: to persist.

—“Where is the alienated artist? Who is he?”—

Well, first, is anyone alienated? (A marxist term blaming others for one’s failings.) Lets ask it differently: Would cooperating with them produce negative externalities – like encouraging more immigration of an underclass?(Often) Are they unable to valuably cooperate with others – and therefore unneeded?(Often) Or are the ‘ostracized’ merely those who are displeasing others – and therefore undesirable? (Sometimes). Or are they merely unsatisfied with their social status(mostly)? And did they have the opportunity to attempt to find good manners, productive use and purpose? (usually in the developed world, yes.)

If you mean, instead of ‘alienated’, ‘unsatisfied’ and seeking to envision the world differently from how it is (yes), then that is how artists already approach art theory.

We often fail to find a means of obtaining status signals, from others, and from our own perception of success and failure. As such we are unsatisfied. And our evolutionary origins inform us of our reproductive, cooperative and productive failure.

So, instead, you are asking, “Where is self status seeking, and other status seeking obtainable within Propertarianism?” And that is, that as long as he envisions a world achievable without the imposition of costs upon others who have not themselves imposed costs upon others, then the world needs him as much under propertarian ethics than under any other.

Just as research results in learning what does not work, leaving only what works. Just as epistemology is learning what is false, leaving only what is a truth candidate. Just as morality is doing whatever you wish as long as it imposes no involuntary cost upon others, then all propertarianism tells us is what NOT to do, since there is no perfect man to imitate – that would be evolutionarily, scientifically, epistemologically and morally impossible.

—“Defining myself in terms of macro-evolution becomes an anti-identity, as that framework is already fairly plebeian, looking for the preservation of a non-identity mass.”—

That’s very German (continental) terminology. (a) “Defining Myself”, Does this mean envisioning a character (god/godlike/hero) to imitate? Why do we need something to imitate? We need it for decidability: so that we know what actions to expend resources upon and those that we should not. Otherwise we fail to concentrate our resources in the pursuit of an end.

(b) “…in terms of macro-evolution..” is equally interesting terminology. How to we launder that set of terms? I think by saying “Anthropomorphizing my goals by means of a virtue ethics helps me. But why should I care about the evolutionary strategy of the group, and adapt your virtue ethics to suit it?”

Conformity to arbitrary norms, signals and rituals is a matter of personal utility, just as embracing alternative norms, signals and rituals. Conformity to non-parasitism is objectively inviting retaliation or objectively avoiding it.

If you wish to encourage retaliation and abandon cooperation, then there are no moral questions to be asked.

Propertarianism and Testimonialism are not positive assertions, but negative assertions: prohbitions on that which is harmful to the pursuit of ANY end by ANY means while retaining the rationality of cooperation with those around you.

It would be ‘groupish’ and ‘herd’ behavior if I were to recommend positive actions. Truth candidates are what remains if we eliminate falsehood, moral actions are what if we eliminate immoral action, desirable actions what we remain if we eliminate undesirable actions.

The only heroism I advocate is that all men must pay to police the commons if they wish liberty. I don’t advocate what one would do with that liberty. That would be illogical, wouldn’t it?

Science is prohibitionary, not ideal.


—“I realize you mean it more operationally, but it still is so devoid of life.”—
—“Where is the good life? That which optimized my ant farm?”—
—“I realize there’s an overlap between personal aristo life and its inspirational impact on society, but I don’t get the sense you emphasize it in your writing and speaking.”—

Science is prohibitionary, not ideal.

—“Your system is one of the best explanatory frameworks I’ve encountered, and yet it’s not a virtue ethics. It’s more: “how do we optimally engineer society.”—

In the schema virtue ethics (imitation), rule ethics (deontological) and outcome based ethics (teleological / consequentialist) describe a schema from the positive and most ignorant of the world to the prohibitionary and most knowledgeable of the world. I think that history shows us many great men, all of whom can serve as virtuous characters so long as we do not violate the principles that make cooperation possible, and the liberty and prosperity that arises from cooperation.


—“I know your education is in fine art, which makes me even more perplexed how dedicated you are to this “Anglo hyperempiricism.”—

Well, it is more that I want to avoid the mistakes of the french, german, and ashkenazi thinkers to whom we owe anglo neo-puritanism, french devolution, german pseudorationalism, and ashkenazi pseudoscience. If an argument is inspirationally constructed then by definition it is loaded and framed. If I want to elminate the deceits of loading and framing then my approach serves that purposes, just as the operationalism of scientific literature serves that purpose.

–“If I can be allowed the pretense of footing, it’s clear to me you’re a scientist, where I’m a psychologist.”—

Well, I know what a scientist is, but I also know that psychology was developed as a means of deception: freud’s pseudoscientific alternative to nietzsche (whose vision he obviously feared.) Psychology as it is practiced to day can be conducted etither as the study of incentives, or the study of cognitive limitations and biases.

I think you might mean, or might be better served by the term aesthete, not psychologist.

—“What an irony then, that I’m actually trained in formal science and you’re trained in formal art.”—

I put forth the thesis in university that there is no difference in the mode of creative expression, only in the ability to percieve each mode of creative expression.

I think another means of positioning that difference is between an unscientific and non-correspondent and therefore UNCONSTRAINED vision of life, and scientific, correspondent and tehrefore CONSTRAINED vision of life.

I have not done this quite the service it deserves but at the moment it’s the best I can afford to put forward.

Curt Doolittle

One response to “Q&A: Curt, Where is a Virtue Ethics?”

Leave a Reply