Thursday, August 10, 2017

Sympathy For The Devil: A Defense of PC/Progressive Opinion On Googlish Cases

It's a kind of decision-theoretic or risk-theoretic argument:
   Arguments should be evaluated, basically, like so:  (likelihood of soundness) x (social cost of false conclusion.)
   Since PC progressives think that the cost of a false conclusion is extremely high in such cases, they think that such arguments will be bad unless it's a virtual certainty that they are sound.
   And we'd all agree that it's far less than a virtual certainty that the arguments are sound.
   I have very little sympathy for such arguments, and I think this may be too charitable...  But anyway.

   Of course this is asymmetric warfare. First, my side doesn't so much see it as warfare, whereas the other side does largely see it that way. Furthermore, we believe that we are under an obligation to be fair to them and their arguments, and to be sufficiently critical of our own arguments. The other side recognizes no such obligations. To paraphrase a student activist from back in the day: fair-mindedness and reason are our liberal hangups, not theirs.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you are basically right in describing the PCs view of the cost of discourse, but if there were a rational way to express this, it would be more like, where:
p=probability of P being true
A=net benefit of it being true
B=net cost of it being false

pA-(1-p)B

There are benefits to having the correct view of racial differences, provided they are genetically determined. We already accept it to the extent that it assists medical diagnosis and treatment (sickle cell anemia, for instance). It would probably dramatically improve educational policy, which could dramatically improve economic opportunity for millions who are ill-served by illusions of success-by-liberal-arts-degree.

Also, it seems wise to caution against utilitarian judgements when a lot of the harm being registered is to ideals. Do we think we would regress to Jim Crow if people realized there are stubborn differences between races, or put women back in the kitchen if there are significant sex differences in aptitude? Or would we just chuck the social constructionists to the curb where they belong? I actually think the latter is far more likely, and actually a net benefit to society (though PCs obviously would disagree).

5:42 PM  

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