Saturday, October 6, 2012

Beyond Disbelief

"The only meaning that theory can have, in my tradition, is the meaning that the practical struggles of human beings gives it." - Rick Roderick
I have moved beyond the fight over religion and on to the fight for human flourishing. The effort to alter peoples beliefs is not my struggle. It is not even a good proxy for my struggle. What we face is human suffering, human flourishing and the ratio between those two. When I say I do not care for philosophical distinction making or for the truth or falsity of beliefs, even my own, it is because I do not see how those things effect the well being of human beings. Which is my only concern.


  1. I'm all for the cause of improving everyone's welfare, but I'm not really sure how truth in most/all things is less than critical to attaining that. One of my most cherished heuristics holds that right knowledge yields right decisions.

    It seems like this is saying that bad assumptions won't inhibit people from taking the actions that maximize our well-being, and that seems pretty indefensible; there's no getting to ends without means.

  2. I believe that truth is less important than well being, but they are usually coordinate. And with arational agents such as human beings the right decisions are sometimes less likely with full knowledge.

    And this is not an attack on the truth, this is a mission statement about caring about human welfare. And what I was trying to say but couldn't, during the talk, was that I did not see how the distinctions that you were asking about connect with human welfare.

  3. Well, the smallest differences tend to become apparent when we try to legislate our way to a better place, and that, of course, happens all the time (please note that this isn't said as a snide libertarian). Debate often comes down to people asserting that conflicting things are just intrinsically good to different degrees. You prefer property rights, I prefer equity: we disagree about food stamps.

    It's those differences that I'm more interested in. People don't really have a good notion of what constitutes good, and it's key that we all very explicitly reduce it to the happiness, hedons, and utils that actually matter (or, allowing for that being wrong, frame it in terms of whatever does actually matter). Things being framed that way, people can actually communicate about their positions using a common language, and ideally come to the optimal solution more often.

    Granted, insanity manifests itself in all parts of the making-things-better process, and there are plenty of problems to be fixed - yours included - but I wouldn't dismiss the others offhandedly.

    1. I changed the post to reflect the fact that I am not dismissing them as unimportant in general, just potentially unimportant to my project.