Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Nothing But Nostrums

Genre: Meta-politics.

Goal: Depersonalizing debate at every scale.

Credence Level: 90%

Novelty Level: Moderate. I've made noises about this before, but have never truly expanded on my points in the glorious ways I have here.

Priority Level: High. Somewhere in the "things I'm very concerned with and you should be too" stack.

Alt-goal: Improving relations (if any) between pragmatists and pessimists.

Disclaimer: Due to the breadth of this topic, and its associated drifts, I have decided to split things. This post is part one of a three part series. The split resembles my Q&A post from 2018, except this time around, the second and third installments will actually be finished and posted sooner than later (the Q&A drafts are on life support, unsure if I'll be reviving them down the road).

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Capitalism ⬌ Socialism: The Other Economic Stagnation

When skilled and unskilled people living in the digital age are asked about the sharpest divides behind economic belief, responses indicate that Socialism vs. Capitalism is (still) where it's at. It will come as no surprise that I am far from convinced that bifurcating economics along this especial a lane is coherent or productive in 2018. That is, once one applies exclusively forward-looking criteria for determining what we have most reason to dispense with and what we'd do well to preserve.

If this comes across as a pitch for the Mixed Economy as the only way forward, it goes to show just how attentively propagandized things are. There's a multitude of so-called Third Ways. Some of them doctrinally incorporate aspects ofor the totality of the LTV. It would be more accurate to refer to these buried models as Fourth Way, Fifth Way, etc. That won't happen, and each of those highly multifaceted mixed systems will continue to receive zero airtime and attention. So next time you hear about the drawbacks of the Mixed Economy, try to point out that "it" has as many if not more offshoots as all the unmixed doctrines do.

Hair-splitting example: Whether an economy is mixed or unmixed says nothing about whether it is ultimately grounded in steady-state precepts or in unfettered "growthism". Visual aid time:

Sunday, September 30, 2018

We Are All Deplorables Now

Joyful vs. Diffident Victories 

No matter how impressive a philosophy, ideology, system or modest set of prescriptions comes across as being, it should not be spoken of glowingly or fawned over in the privacy of its adherents' minds.

The antithesis of it should likewise not be spoken of disparagingly or demonized in the privacy of said minds. Tall orders, these two.

It's normal to ask why. Why shouldn't you feel the way you naturally do? Why pretend that our accurate or wise beliefs do something other than turn us into the protagonists, and that their inaccurate or insane beliefs do something other than turn them into the antagonists?

Since the why is so normalized and psychologically embedded, we might conclude that it is reasonable to run with it. So when a snarky meme comes along and points out that taking pride in one's beliefs is puerile, not only is it acceptable to ask why, it's downright imperative to do so. But no one asks why when called upon to acknowledge the circus that is Party Politics vis-à-vis their individual voting history.

No one with an IQ above room temperature lionizes their 2016 Clinton-Will-Do vote (anti-Trump vote), or their Trump-Will-Do/anti-Clinton vote. Only the electoral flat-earther engages in such lionization. 

It is generally understood that the options are wretched, that party loyalty is gullibility, and that the more conscientious a voter is, the readier they will be to hold their nose in the booth and select one type of evil to stave off the eviler evils. Apparent anti-idealists love to point all of this out, especially when an inveterate idealist who sat out the last election gets all up in their grill about the impurity of it all.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Economic Ideology: 30 Questions

Welcome to Installment #1 of a questionnaire sequence I have been working on that aspires to refine or cancel some of our contemporary beliefs. Hopefully there will be more refining than abandoning.

Motive: If you know what it's like to see an influential celeb sound off on a monstrously complex issue, one they seem to think isn't all that complex, you'll mutter to yourself they're in way over their head with this. I sincerely believe that engaging the tough questions below would go a long way in making such celebs less green. Opinionated show-biz types are good question-fodder when you just can't stop inundating yourself with their less than stellar commentaries on the state of everything. But disclaimer: The same holds for neophytes from all walks of life who present as something other than neophytes.

Note also that this is only a Rough Draft. The final version will incorporate an actual polling metric for answers. Right now, I'm just seeking answers in the comment section, as well as any suggestions on how to improve the Q&A itself. This installment has 30 questions, and because it's a rough draft, there's no rule dictating how many questions participants must answer. If you only want to answer one and ignore the rest, leave a comment doing just that.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Nationalism And Sanctity

Prediction: The prism of the political is not going to decompress anytime soon. The remainder of the 21st Century will be as polarized as the 2015-2018 years have been, if not more so.

Reasons: It's getting harder to spot a single social media user who even faintly doubts that The Personal Is Political.

True, I still make it a point to observe social media users from a healthy distance. If the user is adept at networking, or is just traffic-friendly enough to be visible, the user will without exception believe TPIP.

TPIP tends to be an unstated conviction, and I can easily fathom it being an unwitting one as well. No one has to go around declaring "The Personal Is Political" for the astute lurker to gather that this is what the speaker has internalized.

Some speakers are in touch with their TPIP beliefs, but won't state them outright, because icky connotations. I suppose identitarian is the label that's been reserved for them, or that they've reserved for themselves...

Overall though, ordinary TPIP-ers are nowhere close to recognizing how everything from their informal rhetoric up to their formal emphasis on first-personal methods of gaining knowledge lends itself to such an orientation.

So while all identitarians are TPIP-ers they reflexively believe The Personal Is Political not all TPIP-ers are identitarians. Self-unaware TPIP-ers recoil at identitarianism, even though they'll use phrases like "Political Identity" 100%  uncritically. A huge part of their selves will be poured into their societal projects, molding their political wish-lists. If you're on social media like a meth-head on pipes, I'm probably talking about you.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The Yellow Button And Anti-Natalist Agendas

We've heard about the Red Button and the Green Button. All well and good. Now suppose there's this newly installed Yellow Button: Pressing it means you instantaneously remove all human beings from the earthly equation. Poof they go.

If you'd prefer for things to be a bit more restrained and even-handed, amend the hypothetical so that pressing the Yellow Button means you incapacitate each human's reproductive function. This way, all unsuspecting individuals still get to live out the rest of their lives despite their newfound inability to procreate.

I'll just stick with the harsher version, for brevity's sake.

Either way, the result is the same in a generation or four: A planet devoid of humanity, with all else remaining the same.

The kicker: You don't have days/weeks/months to decide whether or not to press the Yellow Button. You must decide right now, as the button is here for a limited time only. With ample time to make the call, loose ends might not end up being so loose, and the lesson being imparted loses some of its punch.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Eternity And Mediocrity

Nick Bostrom's Infinite Ethics is a worthwhile read, but if you don't have the time, I'll just point you to this bit from the abstract:

  • Modern cosmology teaches that the world might well contain an infinite number of happy and sad people and other candidate value-bearing locations. Aggregative ethics implies that such a world contains an infinite amount of positive value and an infinite amount of negative value. You can affect only a finite amount of good or bad. In standard cardinal arithmetic, an infinite quantity is unchanged by the addition or subtraction of any finite quantity. So it appears you cannot change the value of the world.

Maybe you gawk at the quoted passage and conclude that contemporary cosmologists are out to lunch. Or maybe you figure Bostrom misrepresents or misconstrues what the majority of them actually believe. I don't know, and it doesn't really matter anyway, because you don't have to believe that sentient life sticking around forever is a foregone conclusion. You just have to acknowledge that the finitude of sentience isn't exactly a foregone conclusion either. The best available evidence for infinitude isn't conclusive, but it's not dismissible either.

And even if you are unfazed by the expertise of cosmologists, to the point of remaining 100% confident that sentient life is destined to go extinct for good sometime in the future, I would say the Arithmetic Paralysis quandary outlined in the paper is fascinating enough in its own right to warrant theoretical pivots. Not everything needs to implicate Applied Ethics to be worthy of our mentation.

If you have a bona fide appetite for philosophy, toying with ideas that educe incredulous stares elsewhere should be a picnic.    

"Nothing stifles intellectual curiosity like the craving for familiarity."

Me. Just now.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

12 Rules For Life But Actually Insightful

The original title was going to be "Twelve Rules For Analytical Life" and I'm sure it would've garnered some eye-rolls from those who gush over the Intellectual Dark Pleb. Alas, that title was chucked in the bin because I've been trying to make good on my yearly New Year's Resolution to present things less snobbishly.

Except, by drawing attention to the scrapped derisive title in the first paragraph of the post, I'm falling short of the ideal anyway. At least I tried, a bit.

Here are the Actually Insightful twelve-rules-for-life:

Rule #1: Get a handle on epistemology.

Rule #2: Get a handle on decision theory and game theory

Rule #3: Familial loyalism draws from every other meritless loyalism. Refuse to play.

Rule #4: Wrap your mind around skepticism about moral responsibility.

Rule #5: Come to see that central problems in Population Ethics remain unsolved.

Rule #6: Think slow, unless you're just here to have fun.

Rule #7: Understand that beliefs aren't dispositional or representative of one's essence. Strangers with whacky beliefs need not have personal demons.

Rule #8: Feel free to be as selfish as possible in the company of ethical egoists. They'd paradoxically want you to.

Rule #9: Make up for some of that selfishness by being altruistic towards the worst off. Take your time sorting out who is and isn't at/near/above the worst-off mark.

Rule #10: The 20th Century was the bloodiest for reasons that have little to do with the usual reasons you've been fed. Combat the false narratives whenever you see them.

Rule #11: The fallacy of relative privation is only partly fallacious.

Rule #12: Don't utter "logic" without qualifiers. There are numerous forms of it, and they bump heads.

From the top:

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Discursive Update Because Why Not

The end of 2017 is fast approaching and I've only managed to offer up one (deadly long) post all year. A downer. On ambitious days, the goal was to have an uneven five presentable by year's end, but as is often the case, whatever time I spent trying to improve dusty drafts only saw them deteriorate by becoming overwritten and inconsumable. Not unintelligible, by the way. Just inconsumable, and only so for the external reader who isn't magically cohabiting my headspace. How dare they, those non-me people.

In truth, I'm being half-serious here, having reached the point where one persistently intrusive element of my psyche feels justified in scorning readers for not living in my head so as to absorb my content better. Thankfully, all the other parts of my psyche are still sane enough to know better. For now.

Anyway, I don't see any of those unfinished posts getting completed in the coming days/weeks, so rather than have myself attempt a hasty job on a random isolated topic, I'll try to pull off a hasty job on a general rundown of topics which I continue to obsess over daily.

Call it a "Doxastic Clip Show" post.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The Shallowness Of Intersectionality

Ethnicity & Sexuality


An unexamined but glaring double-standard looms over anyone who traverses racial and sexual politics from acutely restorative angles. It's worth accentuating that these angles are uniformly past-minded and take cues from influential theories foregoing neutrality in intergenerational accounts of justice. To right past wrongs, they encourage members of certain groups to view their raw subjective experiences as epistemic leverage in answering questions of factual import. Adjusted for varying levels of past injustices, some maltreated groups are afforded more experiential leverage than others, though this is controversial and inessential for the main tenets to be introduced.

The uncontroversial tenets hold that the more Historically Wronged groups one belongs to, the more internally-crafted epistemic cred one secures for oneself. The fewer Historically Wronged groups one belongs to, the less internally-crafted cred one secures. The upshot is that, for one particular group, no such clout is plausibly on the table. At least insofar as its members live in the West.

This is not to suggest that the traditionally minded are altogether insusceptible to double-standards of this kind. No one is foundationally immunized from the standpoint "leverage" oversight, no matter their professed pol-orientation.

It just so happens that the epistemic blinders I'll be focusing on here are less likely to take hold once traditionalistic dogma enters the fray. How can this be? The reasons I give are stretchable and mazelike, intended for the diligent and temperamentally mature reader who fires no shots at the messenger and who assesses what the post is getting at incrementally.

It is commonly believed that, amid depoliticized human affairs, associational selectivity now enjoys a cordial amoral status thanks to generic progressivism. Culturally induced monogamy has had its day. Its replacement doesn't demand widespread support from any mainstream culture, it merely demands that non-monogamous choices not be condemned the way they were prior to the sexual revolution. As with other forms of assortative choosiness, the moral stakes are neither good or bad. They just are, and they ought to be respected or tolerated.

The setup goes something like: There are rights and there are responsibilities. Civic norms operate on the give-and-take between the two. The freer a society is, the more progressive it becomes, the more roominess it affords to arbitrary favouritisms within apolitical domains. Trying to outrun the inescapability of instinct and choice, once all impersonal responsibilities are fulfilled, is a fool's errand. Seek to stultify this progress and be met with reminders that what goes on consensually behind closed doors is no one's business dammit. Alright then.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Refining Welfarism & Moral Fallibilism

Refining Welfarism & Moral Fallibilism

A Renewed Look At Interests And Judgments

Semi poetic opener:

"Ask not what we can do for goodness, ask what goodness can do for us"

But more contentiously:

"Ask not what victimizers can do for rightness, ask what rightness can do for victims"

Now soak in the reversal:

"Ask not what goodness can do for us, ask what we can do for goodness"

And the corollary:

     "Ask not what rightness can do for victims, ask what victimizers can do for rightness"

The first set of quotes is foundationally suitable. That is to say; when reason-giving and explication bottoms out, the initial set of quotes can be declared superior to the inverted set. The ideal analyzer may declare them as superior even if the only way to get there is by fiat. No doubt, fiat is analytically icky, but rarely is it taken to be an invalidator of virtues like intellectual candor. Do candid types arrive at intellectual honesty through something other than fiat? If so, what exactly? How might we prove to someone that they ought to value intellectual honesty over the competition?

You might think that a truth-seeker proclaiming the superiority of intellectual honesty –– and with it the inferiority of intellectual dishonesty –– is disanalogous to my proclaiming the initial set of quotes as superior to the inverted set. But what makes these proclamations disanalogous? Empiricism? Come now. It can't be that. The call to science is itself a non-empirical endeavour. Denial of this manifests in the circularity of a truth-seeker applying evidence to dissuade someone against their apathy or hostility towards evidence.

When it comes to intellectual honesty, the only real competitor is intellectual dishonesty. Value the former, disvalue the latter. Simple as. The fiat, however icky, is left standing. The verdict stands tall despite its offputtingly unempirical [evaluative] origin. So it is with the above quotes, notably the first set. The only competition in town, after all, is the second set of quotes. The reversals. And they seem rather backwards, for goodness and rightness aren't persons or relational entities that can be harmed/benefitted in the first place. They are communicational tools, they are doxastic tools, and tools of all stripes should not be aggrandised as Something More.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Unrelenting Political Catastrophism (Warning: Ranty)

Cyber-induced conflict faddishness seems to have reached an all-time high, especially if you measure things by factionalized self-unawareness. I confess to having absorbed more of this sugary topicality compared to what my ideal disciplined self would have tolerated in a fraction of the timespan. And certainly far more than my silence on the boring and predictable American Presidential Election cycle might've led regular readers to believe.

I hate-watch this stuff, and I probably always will, from the same familiarly detached distance the average reader of this blog probably does. The insipidness that jumps out at me? Everything from "Terrorism is a serious threat to our way of life" (roughly 2001-2006) morphing into "Counterterrorism is a front for gov't expansion & liberty encroachment, read Orwell" (roughly 2006-2014) then imperceptibly back to "Terrorism is a serious threat to our way of life, but doubly-seriously this time!" (2014-2016).

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Political Pragmatism: Taking Policy Results Seriously

Originally posted on 2016-06-30. Last substantive revision on 2018-03-17. 

The American Constitution was ratified in 1789. Nearly 11,000 constitutional amendments have been proposed in the interim. Of those, a paltry 27 saw actual amendment ratifications successfully pass. Round up combined attempts to an even 11K and you get a success rate of 0.00245454545%. Perhaps you think that's a figure to be proud of, but then there's peskiness like this to contend with. But even if you defiantly ignore the populist will, just getting to the "Amendment Proposed" stage requires a two-thirds majority vote from the House and Senate. Contrast with Germany, which has 50 Constitutional amendments under its belt, and this is if you only start counting from 2003 onwards. That's 50 successful amendments in less than 13 years for Germany, while the last successful ratification in the U.S. took place 24 years ago as of my writing this. At one point, Scalia calculated that it can feasibly take 2% of the entire U.S. population to block an amendment that's spiritedly backed by a supermajority. America; Home Of The Same.

The point? There are people who subscribe to forward-looking ethical theories yet oddly insist on having political sacred cows. I can only infer that they've not adequately politicized their consequentialism. The reasons for this will differ. In the worst case, they will have failed to do so quite deliberately. Political identity wins out because the sacredness-conserver is not a consequentialist to begin with. Then again, many members of this group are assuredly oblivious to having implicitly snubbed a systematized theory of ethics in favour of political identity. More on them later.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Selflessness/Selfishness Attuned To Fortune/Misfortune

  • Ethical Altruism is notoriously self-disregarding; striving to fulfill others' (strangers') interests even if it's done at the expense of oneself. An act is morally admissible if its consequences carry more benefits (over harms) to everyone except the agent.

  • Ethical Egoism is notoriously self-obsessive; striving to fulfill one's own interests even when doing so comes at the expense of everyone else. An act is morally admissible if its consequences carry more benefits (over harms) only to the agent.

  • Utilitarianism is self-inclusive and other-regarding. Everyone's interests have equal weightiness in proportion to their respective situation. Agents impacting a certain state of affairs don't rule themselves out and freely accommodate their own interests into the final harms/benefits distribution.

But you know all this. Or at least you should.

Ethicists seeking to settle on the most sensible of the three overwhelmingly end up with some sort of utilitarian calculus. Nothing surprising about that, considering the competition. Moral masochism vs. moral sadism vs. moral impartialism. Not exactly the hardest choice in the world. Impartiality all the way.

Neophytes hear this and conjure a utility-minded agent who must approach each and every case as A New Beginning with antecedent factors treated as though they're divorced from normative considerations. Lately I've been running into this misconception, and have maybe even contributed to it through last year's enthused endorsements of moral particularism... so here I'll explain why antecedent-undermining decisional-procedures have the potential to be counterproductive to concrete utilitarian ends. This holds no matter the specific flavor and sub-flavor of utilitarianism being adhered to. If a decision-procedure is heavily contemporaneous and minimally anterior, it goes on to be lopsided in its assessment of the breadth of each individual life. In doing so, it feasibly overlooks individualistic wholeness; a cardinal component of impartial-concern. Realizing this, the prudential utilitarian can frequently proceed with altruistic or egoistic precepts and still minimize disutility (or maximize utility, if you're into that sort of thing) without falling into the moral quicksand of self-disregard or self-absorption. Call this lenience situational altruism and situational egoism, contra refractory altruism and refractory egoism.

Hang on, how can altruism or egoism, as characterized above, ever be conducive to negative (or positive) utilitarian tenets? Moreover, wouldn't admitting as much spell doom for the intellectual blueprints behind the Effective Altruism movement? Quite the contrary, once you envision the agent as partaking in a situational but panoramic game of tug-of-war.

Suppose you're stuck in an elevator at your workplace. There are four people stuck in the same elevator with you. All four of them are from a different department. The emergency callout button isn't working. Cursed installers. The weekend just started, and no one's in the building as the firm encourages employees to leave early on Fridays. Something about Corporate Culture pop-research indicating that it boosts morale. At any rate, each of you forgot to recharge your respective gadgetry throughout the day, so everyone's phone is battery-depleted and useless at this point. You yelled. You screamed. You pounded on the elevator's door, its floor and its ceiling. You tried ripping apart the ceiling to make your way to the roof. All of it for naught. Seems like you're all spending the next 48 to 72 in this dusky elevator. Worryingly huddled up together. You do your best to start thinking less melodramatically; 72 hours does sound like a stretch. 48 to 60 seems about right. To be sure, there's not a snowball's chance in hell of this resulting in a tragedy, just severe annoyance, stress and an irredeemable waste of a perfectly good weekend.

It's been an hour. The five of you are already hungry. Noon's lunch break seems like a lifetime ago for all of you. You discuss this amongst yourselves. As luck would have it, you're carrying five slices of pizza, having bought a full pizza for takeout during lunch. You only had three slices then, planning to have the rest over the weekend. Now it appears you'll be having the rest of it tonight, considering your lack of non-pizza options. Lucky you. But how many slices should you have? The only person with any food in the elevator is yourself. Your co-captives travel light, which begs the question; who had the biggest lunch? Was it you with the three slices? Was it George from Corporate? How about Jim from Corporate? Or maybe it was April from Corporate? Now that you think of it, it was probably Bill from Corporate. He's the fattest, so he must've had the biggest meal.

Next thing you know, questions of this manner find their way into the conversation. Turns out all four of them had meals indistinguishable in size and calories from your three slices. Every indicator points to the five of you being equally hungry at present. Each of you pulled a long day at the office and it's well past 1900 hrs now. George, Jim, April and Bill have money on them and are happy + eager to compensate you for the four equally-sized slices.

Is this everything readers need to know in order to conclude that it would be unethical of you to refuse to sell four (of your five) slices to the individuals stuck in this elevator with you? In a nutshell, no. There's plenty more for readers to ask.

What you do know is that George, Jim, April and Bill work in corporate. All of them make good bank. They enjoy what they do, and the sky's the limit. You, on the other hand, have been stuck in the mailroom for over a decade now. You work hard. You're punctual. You have an upbeat attitude. Great customer service skills. And yet, no promotion in sight. You were there when George, Jim, April and Bill started in the mailroom, and you were there when they left for bigger and better things in the same company. Was it simple meritocracy? Maybe, for April and Jim at least. George and Bill, meanwhile, got ahead thanks to Nepotism 101.

Unlike them, you have no friends in any of the right places, and resultantly never develop a habit for sliding your image into the good graces of the right people, even though you see the CEO on a daily basis. He always greets you with niceness, but you know that's no reason to slimily contrive extended conversations and shoehorn self-bolstering add-ons into said talks. Chatter only, no manoeuvring. No occupational boosts, but you wake up every day and like who you see in the mirror. Is that reward enough though, as folk parables would have it? Not exactly. You're tired of the mailroom. You're tired of the chump change. Your purchase power is at an all time low. You need a raise. You deserve a raise. George, Jim, April and Bill keep getting raises. Like clockwork. New shiny cars and clothes every year, shortly after each new promotion. It's obvious.

It's past time for some unabashed bluntness; you're bitter. You have a right to be, and not just a "in the privacy of my own mind, I'm calling foul" type of a right, but a full-blown Cognitive Right. The sort of right you applaud vanguards and iconoclasts with. You are bitter as fuck, and it's justified. Set aside amateur psychology's puerile attempts to delineate benign vs. non-benign envy. You're not envious in the first place, you're silently outraged and have been skirting around admitting it to yourself. It's been a decade long slow-burn, culminating in tonight's predicament. Fears of falling into the Ressentiment defense-mechanism bias is probably why you shied away from recognizing it for so long. Now it dawns on you; just as people understand that "It's not paranoia if they're really out to get you" it's also not Ressentiment if you've really been screwed over with fuck-all in the way of justification.

No longer will you allow western ethos to senselessly bitter-shame you out of your justly held appall. Starting now, you're letting yourself feel that bitterness. Embrace that contempt. You seem to have done everything right, but have nothing to show for it except occupational ossification. Impartial observers might even say you've worked harder and smarter than all four of your co-captives, and would've made for a better corporate candidate.

Worse yet, George, Jim, April and Bill all seem to have fulfilling personal lives, while your social circle has gradually shrunk into next-to-nothingness. It's virtually non-existent these days. You are, by all accounts, a more interesting person than the four of them. You're knee-deep into the most captivating subcultures. You discuss big ideas and propose feasible solutions to some of the most grievous problems facing the world. They enthusiastically discuss their workout routines, good vs. bad restaurants, clubs, bars, the local scene in general, Top 40 Radio, Reality TV, various soaps and sitcoms with post-pavolvian laugh-tracks. They genuinely enjoy this, and it reinforces their extroverted Social Butterfly inanities.

And so, on reflection of all these non-stuck-in-elevator inequities where your cohorts tower over you, shall I repose the original question? Should you sell them the four slices? If you do, you're left with the one slice; one measly slice which you'll eat at some point tonight because you're all worked up and sleep is just not in the cards for you. There's no way you're not eating at least one of your five slices tonight. It's quite the hunger now. The type of hunger that makes time pass slowly, the last thing you need. Same goes for your fellow captives though, and they tell you as much. They want the four slices and are all but waving $20 bills at you. You keep telling them you'll have to think about it. You truly don't want to be left sliceless after tonight and spend all of Saturday and Sunday hungry... very hungry... starving perhaps. Why should you? More importantly, why should they be entitled to your good fortune? For once, the Cosmic Misfortune ratios steered less toward you and more toward them. For once, you have an opportunity to capitalize on blind forces.

Oh, but what of utilitarian decisional-procedures? It's not a trick question. What of them? Understand that there is no anti-utilitarian gotcha to this setup. The pro-utility, anti-disutility answer is here to be found, and it circles back to a recounting of cosmic slights to see how they stack up during the course of everyone's lifetime. Once you privilege the farsighted backlog over the nearsighted backlog, you as the hopeful maximizer of axiological goodness and minimizer axiological badness are within reason to act in accordance to all that history. Bring yourself up as much as possible, because you'll still wind up further the red than the four of them stand to.

Annoyingly, some view this as a conflation on my part as pertains to utilitarian vs. egalitarian metrics, so let me be clear; I'm unsympathetic to any form of egalitarian (comparative) analysis of value/disvalue. The face value inference pointing in egalitarian directions only registers if you're ignorant of, or if you underestimate the effect of, Diminishing Marginal Utility. Adjusted to a farsighted grasp of general life satisfaction vs. dissatisfaction, in lieu of Specific Product Consumption, DMU has it that not only would you do well to retain the five slices, doing so would benefit the overall state of affairs you're connected to on account of you playing axiological catch-up. No one will starve to death because you capitalized on this one opportunity. No one is going to be stuck in that elevator for weeks or months. Everyone will be out by Monday, and of the five of you, you are the last one who needs additional hardship in the grand scheme of things. You're more deserving of a break, and hunger does not a break make. So diminished marginal utility, under this configuration and subcontext, offers inegalitarian reasons that are egalitarian-seeming to the uninitiated, because it surfacely seems like you're engaging in comparative metrics and reaching conclusions atop that overview. But it's more to do with a game of corporate musical chairs. They got all the corporate marbles and levelled you down in the process, generating net harm. So, if nothing else, hang on to your Pizza In Elevator bronze-prize. It's nontrivially yours, even if it drags them down.

After all, were you ever entitled to Bill's or April's or Jim's or George's seemingly neverending bouts of fortuitousness? Did they ever think to ask? Did it even occur to them to try putting in a good word for you? Y'know, even out the fortune-to-misfortune ratios a bit? Nope, they just went about their business; their narrow-minded, uninteresting, mind-numbing verbal-cockroach type business... and now they expect your help; your slices; your tinge of unearned fortune. You're roughly the same age as them and your utility score is well below theirs. It's nonnegotiable. They can afford to be levelled down a tincture. You can't. So soak up this relatively lucky break.

Utility, in cases like these, relies on the agent's outright refusal to be a moral chump. It entails a willingness to fight fire with fire via an egoist-seeming decision-procedure. In an environment where your contemporaries play by "You gotta look out for number one!" cultural maxims, your failure to adapt to their rules will only inflate global disutility. Panoramic disutility.

"...Well, there's five slices, and five of us, so... it's only fair, right?" says Bill, ever so meekly.

You say nothing in return and indulge some thought-mode insults "Go fuck yourself Bill, you parasitic nepotistic inconsiderate shitstain of a human being!".

Felt good. Maybe you'll say it out loud if he keeps pestering you.

It's now Sunday afternoon and you've just had your fifth and final slice. Finger licking good! You'll be out in less than 16 hours, if the upcoming Monday is anything like a normal Monday, which by all accounts will be the case. You now look over at them... they're disappointed in you, but too starved to verbally condemn you for hording the slices. Monday morning comes soon enough, and you're all freed on cue. They try giving you the silent treatment for a few days, but it all blows over before you know it. 

A year goes by. You receive a promotion, having played by a somewhat more self-interested set of rules ever since the elevator-entrapment tipping point. All of a sudden, you have money to spare. Additional promotions follow, as you've only become more cutthroat in your dealings with competitor colleagues; effectively elbowing out some of them from being promoted.

Another year passes, and you're swimming in spare cash by this stage. You make it a point not to donate any of it to the locals, for they are still recipients of western fortuitousness. No, you will instead spend the remainder of your working life donating a handsome percentage of your annual income to the global poor via EA, for they are still victims of Cosmic Unfortunateness. You select reliably cure-minded charities over bandaids-for-more-bandaids ones.

You are now the situational altruist, the situational egoist, and the ultimate methodological utilitarian all rolled into one. The surest way to pull it off, in a society where your competitors are socialized to craftily look out for number one, is to indulge in the same against them. Neglect them and their interests. Your non-competitors will thank you for it.


Disclaimer: Of course, no one is limited to choosing between the above three consequentialist calculi. There are non-altruist, non-egoist, and non-utilitarian alternatives available on the telic menu. One-dimensional consequentialists may find this trivial, and that's precisely why everyone should shun one-dimensional consequentialism in favour of multi-dimensional consequentialism so that no agent ends up glued to a utilitarian calculus in outlier-type configurations where a distinctly prioritarian calculus suffices in bringing about a more humane result.

More on Prioritarianism in future posts.