Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Unravelling Freelance Ethics

Editorial 2015-07-17: Redirect here for a better (less pedestrian) post on much of the same subject matter (ethics). The stuff below is largely disposable, barring my fine-tuning of AntiNatalism. That was the entire purpose of the post to begin with; to improve on the 2012 post on AN. Should've just stuck to that. Oh well.

In revisiting the second half of my 'AntiNatalism And Dissection' piece from a while back, I’ve noticed its condemnations of “utilitarian borg-math” come across as unjustifiably abrasive and call for an update. Equating all ethical wavelengths complimentary to utility to a sort of 'borg math' or 'borg calculus' doesn’t sit well with me today. Since the borg remarks were attributed to inexorable aggregation, and were meant to exclude non-aggregative (aka average) measures of utility, taking such a fractious tone didn’t strike me as being unfair back in 2012. Problem is, I didn't overtly qualify any of this in that write-up. So here I am now.

While the post rightly avoids portraying utilitarian ethics as some monolithic value theorem, it does undermine pressing concerns hospitable towards Negative Utilitarianism –– but more so towards Negative Preference Utilitarianism –– once limited to non-trivial harm in tandem with non-consensual harm. I’ve pounced on those concerns in subsequent posts, making it clear that perpetuating such harm category horrors shouldn’t be tolerated, even if one’s intolerance towards them, which is to say prevention of them, only comes about through the violation of even the most cherished non-consequentialist principles. Retrospectively, I can see how some of the rhetoric in the 2012 post just might leave the reader with impressions to the contrary, where non-consequentialist principles prevail at the expense of perpetuating nadirs of innocent victims, regardless of enormity and frequency. This irks me, because it’s not what I aimed for originally. I won’t delete or edit the post, as roughly 75% of it still registers with me as solid.

Anyway, instead of updating or altering the post, I’ll offer a shorter and hopefully less convoluted account for why I’m partial to value pluralism and why my hostility towards value monism has consumed much of my attentional energies as of late.

By its very definition, pluralism in the arena of ethics flies in the face of unequivocal adherences to Classic Utilitarianism or Kantian Deontology’s brand of non-consequentialism. I’m narrowing in on these two superstructures as they’re probably the most notorious false dichotomy that's been juxtaposed for centuries, making their respective axioms the perfect fodder for this post.

Targeting normative theories that have managed to maintain this much credibility over the centuries comes with much baggage, like being misconstrued as a fatalist or a value-apatheist or an appealer to If-By-Whiskey fallacies… things of that dastardly nature. Very tedious.

Alas, we have the history of moral philosophy to thank for these thought-binaries, if you’ll pardon my impiety. If this is false, by all means, point me to the influential moral theorists who presented “Consequentialism vs. Non-Consequentialism” as a spectrum-based issue that’s multilayered, rather than a commitment-based one for which a constrained “either/or” resolution must be ascribed. I’m not ruling out the possibility of such moral philosophers existing, I just doubt their notoriety; particularly their visibility in moral-philosophy-as-taught-in-academia type environments.

I haven’t physically attended formal lectures on ethics –– the courses themselves vary based on region and the agendas of those at the helm of the institution –– but I have sat through my share of the recorded lectures, totalling to hundreds of hours of minutiae absorption. The more ground one covers when it comes to the pertinent material available to anyone with an internet connection, the more tempted one should be to outline how its agent-centered framings strangulate modern discourse on ethics in the form of comparative global outcomes.

Just consider at how fatuous the cliché trolley thought experiment is when posed to Classical Negative Utilitarians. All that's revealed here is that the Classical Negative Utilitarian (CNU) will side with the Kantian, but for drastically different reasons. If we assume that the CNU is assured that the five individuals tied to the rails will die instantaneously on impact, the Deontologist and the CNU will jointly refrain from pushing fatty onto the tracks. The Classical Negative Utilitarian (who rejects Preference Utilitarianism and even Negative Preference Utilitarianism) will only abstain because five deaths are bound to curtail more harm in the long run compared to one death, as the immediate discontinuation of five lives suggests a lower likelihood of overall longevity (and less cyclical bits of harm accumulation) compared to the immediate discontinuation of one life.

If this overused moral conundrum is ever posed to you, you’d be wise to sit on the sidelines. Authentic cost-to-benefit analyses are impossible here, given the constrictive nature of the thought experiment itself. If pressed for a response, I’d answer with some questions of my own, like "How the hell would I ever know, in advance, that fatty is large enough to stop a running train?". If I'm assured that I'd just magically know this, what's to stop me from asking ''Well then would I also have foreknowledge that the victims will die instantly on impact?''. If the answer is no, the obvious follow-up question would be ''Do I get to know the extent of the pain tolerance dissimilarities between fatty and the five subjects? For all I know fatty could be more sensitive than all five of them combined!''. If the answer to this is also a no, it would be prudent to ask about the number of individuals who are emotionally close to all six subjects, in hopes of ascertaining how this impacts the grieving process (insofar as who ends up dealing with the loss or losses). If this is also unattainable, the next step would be to inquire about all six subjects' worldviews. If fatty is the type of person who believes things like ''Sentient life is worth perpetuating no matter how bad things get'' while the other five individuals are more, ahem, levelheaded, then pushing fatty can be a lesser of evils on the grounds that he can now endure the very “life as a package-deal” gift that he himself professes to be tolerant of in the name of perpetuation, even if it's for a split-second only. If the ideology roles were reversed, with fatty as the cautious one and the other five the avid risk-junkies, I contend that fatty shouldn’t be touched with a 50 foot pole. Other important questions would be ''Why are those people stuck on the tracks to begin with? What did they do? Who did they piss off?''.

Since this is an agent-centered thought experiment designed from the outset to subvert attempts to get past elementary stalemates, merely posing these questions is viewed (erroneously) as exposing the holes in consequentialist ethics. How convenient.

Again, I’m not suggesting that my commentary on this is a novelty. I am, in all likelihood, just echoing the concerns of many self-styled moral theorists who have come and gone over the years; individuals whose influence never reached the crafters of curriculums, as evidenced by students who enroll/graduate yet still construe appeals to consequences as either (A) outright fallacies or (B) the bedrock of ethics.

The dichotomy is counterintuitive and indicates a constringed wavelength having been inculcated in pupils’ minds early on, given institutional strangleholds on ethics.

As with most disputes, there’s a spectrum at play. Convincing traditionalists of the reasonableness behind this spectrum is a daunting task when their minds have already been polluted by “Consequentialism vs. Non-Consequentialism” bifurcation. The case for de-bifurcation should never be mistaken for vapid appeals to moderation, because one can displace oneself from the spectrum’s middle-ground without supergluing oneself onto its terminuses.

Using myself as an example: I’m not an indivisible consequentialist, but I’m certainly not in the middle of the spectrum either. By this I mean: I find it profoundly unreasonable to look at ethical predicaments and conclude –– in the interest of equal-representation –– that motives trump consequences 50% of the time, and vice-versa. But I also find it absurd to stick to "one-over-the-other" in every fathomable ethical dilemma.

Pluralistic Utilitarianism =/= Net-Equationism

Note that ‘Net-Equationism’ doesn’t exist in any scholarly domain. The term is my own invention. That's right; I'll be indulging my very own neologism here, so continue at your own peril.

If you’re sympathetic towards aspects of modern utilitarianism and unsympathetic towards Classic Utilitarianism (as it encompasses subdivisions like ‘Total Consequentialism’), your position stands to benefit from this line in the sand that introduces the qualia derived position of Net-Equationism into the fold.

With this in mind, I will always make it a point to draw a vivacious line in the sand between Utilitarianism (reserved for value pluralists) and Net-Equationism (reserved for value monists).

Ideally, the terminological division would escalate in popularity around idiomatic corners of the internet. Following this, the colloquial effects would sever commonplace obscurantisms evoked by prominent non-consequentialists who like to align value monism with any formulation of utility and depict them as though they’re joined at the hip, so as to pigeonhole manifold dissenters with consequentialist leanings.

Will I succeed at popularising this term? Probably not. The goal is a pipe dream, given my aversion to tenacity, my abject lack of status, and zero connections. Still, I think it’s worth putting out there as it just might resonate with the right people.

In addition to Value Pluralism versus Value Monism, this is how my distinguishing between Utilitarianism and Net-Equationism translates over to disciplinal ethics, if we are to go by pedantic hair-splitting:

Utilitarian = Average Consequentialist

Net-Equationist = Total Consequentialist

Call it a quibble, but I am unwilling to rollover and settle for continued usage of the italicized labels. Circumstantial consequentialists can accept appeals to consequences as sound ethical propositions while maintaining leveled antipathies towards Monist Utilitarianism (AKA Net-Equationism). My issue with the loaded italicized monikers boils down to their being squeezed under the general 'Consequentialist' umbrella. This is irritating because differentiations in measurements of welfare –– namely between the collectivized aggregating of sentience versus the individualized averaging out of sentience –– are profound enough to warrant a robust separation in terminological use. This fracturing should not be reduced to an “internal struggle” within a larger ethical theory encompassing numerous branches and subdivisions; all tethered linguistically by the mere fact that they all happen to prioritize consequences above motives.

As things stand now, newcomers who stumble upon my writings for the first time misinterpret my animus towards aggregate measurements of welfare as mere infighting among consequentialists. This is bizarre because there is more overlap between myself and some pluralist non-consequentialists than there is between myself and esthetic consequentialists, for instance, or between myself and monist hedonists. Even more grinding is the fact that the more academically polished the newcomer is, the quicker the newcomer will be in reaching a reductionist impression along these lines. This tends to be the case irrespective of the ethical position held by the newcomer. Though when newcomers are themselves consequentialists, they’re less likely to (or just less cavalier about) blend the aggregation of welfare and the averaging out of welfare into one of the same. I can't say the same for non-consequentialists, but perhaps that says more about my own past dealings with them than anything else.

At any rate, my intent is not to denigrate every superstructure ever put forth by an influential moral theorist; consequentialist or non-consequentialist, past or present. I’m just pointing to the baggage that comes with interpreting their offerings as the be-all end-all of how we should frame our discussions on ethics in the year 2014. The established frameworks are spectrum-free and this leads to by-the-numbers, eye-roll inducing debates where the same maxims are reiterated back-and-fourth. This goes twice for GoogleTube debates, like so. I couldn't even finish that one. It was that excruciating.

Anti-Feminists tend to understand the need for terminological-separatism of this sort, and they've already taken the steps to fragment themselves into 'PUA' versus 'MGTOW' versus plain old 'MRA' territories. This way, an all-encompassing label like 'Anti-Feminist' doesn't leave them vulnerable to much intersection (at least on the surface) as each of the three subsections seems to have grievances with the other two, despite maintaining the general phobia of Feminism.

Meanwhile, “a feminist is a feminist is a feminist” even though the spectrum of internal dissent within schools of Feminism is far more spacious than the spectrum of internal dissent within voguish Anti-Feminism. It’s hardly a secret that the feminist camp has more infighting. But it doesn’t really seem that way to casual onlookers or newcomers because Anti-Feminists don’t generally self-identify as 'Anti-Feminist', opting to go by diversities like 'MRA' or 'MTGOW' or 'PUA' instead, whereas all categories of Feminism incorporate the same label. This carries subconscious effects with newcomers and onlookers, leaving them with the impression that the unified “hive-mind effect” is more widespread among Feminists than it is among Anti-Feminists, which is laughable. This may be more of a PR issue than anything else though.

It’s also an unflattering analogy, so I won’t run with it.

Anyone familiar with my previous posts can view the ''Utilitarianism =/= Net-Equationism'' line in the sand as being analogous to the following:
AntiNatalism =/= Unconditional Extinctionism

Recall how disfavouring parenthood without favouring extinction does not make somebody an Unconditional Extinctionist, but rather a Provisional Extinctionist. If pluralistic ethicists suddenly found themselves in a futuristic, tech-dominated society with the ability to equip select senior citizens with immunity to death-by-natural-causes, they'd do just that (provided that this is actually what the elderly individual had requested to begin with). The Unconditional Extinctionist would not comply with this request, for obvious reasons. By being unconditionally antagonistic towards life in the first place, it’s internally consistent and well within reason for Unconditional Extinctionists to dismiss anyone’s longevity aspirations as the product of thanatophobia or DNA worship, without even knowing anything about the requester.

Seeing as the word 'Extinctionism' is tied to both provisional extinctionists and to unconditional extinctionists, it makes more sense for those of us who oppose parenthood or Adultism –– without taking issue with the prospect of autonomous immortality or individual longevity –– to simply call ourselves AntiNatalists instead of Provisional Extinctionists. This rings true, despite the fact that we technically are Provisional Extinctionists in the here and now, since procreation is the only means by which humans are presently able to ward off extinction. This will continue to be the case for as long as human extinction is thwarted generationally, rather than individually. The remaining dolorous fact, however, is that procreation is also the only means by which biological parenthood is actualized; its actualization being inimical to our sense of ethics. (Or core sense of ethics, if AN happens to be one’s pet-issue)

The breathing room summarized in the above two paragraphs should not be thought of as an “internal struggle” within blanket Extinctionism because Unconditional Extinctionists are unbridled paternalists who believe in the equal-opportunity indexing of harm and hence straightforwardly view extinction as a Desired Outcome, while Provisional Extinctionists look at extinction as nothing more than a By-Product. Had the label AntiNatalist never been coined, I would be stuck with having to constantly refer to myself as a certain type of Extinctionist, which would naturally open the floodgates to all manners of red herrings. Of course, these floodgates are wide open at the moment anyway, since newcomers and opponents (and even adherents!) habitually merge AntiNatalism and Extinctionism into a neat package, thanks in part to the substantial overlap of AntiNatalists and Unconditional Extinctionists out in full force on YouTube.

To be fair, this slovenly merger might also have something to do with David Benatar –– an Unconditional Extinctionist –– being today’s most well-known critic of procreation. Though it’s technically a toss between Benatar and Doug Stanhope, but I prefer to exclude Stanhope as his shtick is a comedic one (and dare I say one that broaches shock-jock territory).

Returning to formal ethics, a parallel segmentation can be invoked to conclude that popularizing the term 'Net-Equationism' would prove to be useful to value pluralists who have consequentialist leanings but who wish to distance themselves from rigid 'net-product' mandates pitching “utility-as-monolith” type overviews. If Net-Equationists are endowed with value monism as their signifier, all other schools of consequentialist ethics can be reserved for value pluralists. This terminological division stands to finally put a lid on garden-variety objections to 'Utilitarianism' or 'Consequentialism' tirelessly rehashed by the unscrupulous.

For example; Robert Nozick is fancied a paragon refuter of 'Utilitarianism' on account of his ''experience machine'' hypothetical. His conclusion predictably ignores how contemporary Preference Utilitarianism (or even mid-20th Century utilitarianism) doesn’t corner its adherents into the quicksand of value monism where hedonic qualia pursuits are the lone measuring stick of value. The experience machine is a textbook example where a pulverizing blow to Net-Equationism gets passed off as a swift knockout argument against the tenor of Preference Utilitarianism, and it's why formal ethics do a disservice to many of my unorthodox yet sensible compositions.

Other roadblocks would remain for pluralist consequentialists –– some just as insurmountable as the roadblocks standing in the way of Kantian Ethics –– but at least we’d be past rudimentary claptraps like “Consequentialists believe that it’s ok to lie as long as the lie hurts no one” and similar bogosities spewed all too regularly. Conversational progress; imagine that!

To recap: It’s possible to abhor Net-Equationism (Total Consequentialism) and retain an outlook that’s chiefly focused on plucking the pathways towards tragic consequences when it comes to matters of non-consensual harm and of non-trivial physical harm. Should this task ever call for knavery on the part of the agent, the lie can be dubbed a lesser of evils instead of being touted as unambiguously ethical. Contrastingly, the stifling guidelines stemming from what the bulk of celebrated moral categorisations offer would have us conclude that anyone who frets over consequences more so than they do over motives is someone who’s principally okay with willy-nilly violations of all conceivable non-consequentialist principles. This is inane. The violations are not a free-for-all. Lying in order to stonewall undesirable consequences in the form of –– (1) trivial harm (2) consensual harm (3) emotional harm –– does not translate to ethical behavior insofar as circumstantial consequentialists go. I think this leeway stands to resonate with anyone who has stared non-trivial harm in the face and managed to duck out by betraying a high-minded commandment.

There’s an element of casuistry in all forms of non-consequentialist ethics, once held in absolutist/monist terms and never stratified with consequentialist concerns. This is difficult to pinpoint in practice because, for example, not lying generally carries good consequences; and that’s precisely the point. We’re dealing with an ethical system whose consequential pleasantries are papered over in such a way so as to camouflage how, had following Kantian mandates to the tee brought about non-trivial misery for all, it would somehow be reasonable to pine for a do-over wherein said principles are followed in an identical fashion, in place of a do-over where deviating from them just so happens to reduce boatloads of harm.

Under this currency of ought, it just doesn’t matter how much unintended harm is generated by the plausible intention to do good. The consequential goodies being smuggled in from the get-go is the source behind the average deontologist’s undercontemplation of worst case scenarios. This is why no conceptual dedication to non-consequentialist “duty” can be held as sacrosanct independent of layered circumstances we find ourselves in at certain points in our lives. Even stoics-on-steroids will concede that they have to bite the bullet if pushed past a certain point, and under non-consequentialist theories, chalking their surrender up to a “lesser of evils” is impermissible.

The same criticism holds true when directed at Net-Equationists who are stalwartly devoted to safeguarding raw experiences/feelings/brain states/qualia, especially once this is done in the aggregate.

Quick reminder that this line in the sand I’m harping on should not be mistaken for an If-By-Whiskey appeal to doublespeak, and combating knee-jerk impressions of this nature calls for the sort of punctiliousness that I’m offering here.

At most, my agenda teeters on No True Scotsman, since 'Total Consequentialism' is still a form of consequentialism and I’d rather see it called Net-Equationism. But that's precisely why I'm presenting this entry as an in-progress attempt to shift the verbiage in a different direction, rather than peddling my goal as one that’s already been met.

The Woeful State Of Value Discourse In Efil Circles

Disclaimer: I’m beating a dead horse with the following, but bear with me:

Inmendham, for one, is more partial to a Net-Equationist calculus in place of multitudes of modern utilitarian schools giving clearance to pluralism. This is gatherable by his fondness of reducing everything down to the qualia. The moment this obscurantism sets in, dismissing ideological (non-qualia) preferences in favor of strict “sentience-as-a-commodity” metrics is seen as the pillar of ethical thought. His is a form of ultra-paternalistic sentience commodification that most contemporary Utilitarians simply don’t accept (including most Negative Preference Utilitarians!) because the focus lies in the optimization of the aggregative tally, which is qualia-centric in this case. I’m more inclined to side with the tally of averages which leaves some room for idiosyncratic preferences as a form of measure (though it’s technically feasible for aggregation to inure some latitude for idiosyncratic considerations, but I’ll leave that for another post).

In short, the average tally –– insofar as pure welfare is concerned –– favours the distribution of forthcoming (inevitable) harm in such a way so that the individual pain slices are as balanced out as possible among sentient subjects as a whole. Under this axiom, the apotheosis of value is the equal or near-equal consideration with regard to harm's distributive effects, even if it comes with the cost of boosting the totality of the harm once it’s all said and done.

The aggregative tally –– insofar as pure welfare is concerned –– focuses exclusively on minimizing the totality of the forthcoming (inevitable) harm and pays no mind to how said harm is rationed out on an individual-to-individual basis, with the multiplier effect taken into full consideration.

The odious implications of this:

If a 'Net-Equationist' (Total Consequentialist) is presented with a planet that harbours life and aggregates exactly 1000 harm units when it’s all said and done, versus a planet that harbours life and aggregates exactly 999 harm units when it’s all said and done, the Net-Equationist has already been supplied with an appropriate answer as to which of the two planets is more preferable in value terms. There are no additional inquiries worth flustering over, because the Net-Equationist already knows the final score, so to speak. Speaking plainly in terms of qualia metrics (in a numeric fashion for illustrative purposes), the totalized 1000 mess is viewed as being slightly more squalid when pitted against the totalized 999 mess. So the planet with the tallied 999 ought to be declared as the marginally better planet. Under this aggregation premise, no further evaluative criteria is warranted. Easy does it.

If a prototypical modern utilitarian (a descendant of Direct Consequentialism, let’s say) were presented with the same two options, an appropriate answer would not be available as of yet. In lieu of an answer, a host of questions would naturally arise expressing concern over how the forthcoming (inevitable) harm would be divvied up among individuals (and, perhaps, for what reasons).

One can distinguish between these diametrically opposed modes of welfare computation by recognizing that Net-Equationists (value monists) are not to be afforded any wiggle room here, since they’re descendants of Classic Utilitarianism which encompasses Total Consequentialism into its calculus. The motto is interchangeable with ignoble slogans like “Keep It Simple Stupid”. If you’re an Inmendham supporter who finds this benchmark infuriatingly myopic, be sure to challenge him the next time his 'net product' concerns arise. I’m done trying. Despite hours of live conversations I’ve had with him over Skype, the man is still incapable of handling criticisms of “net-product-as-value” axioms with anything other than “selfishness is dumb” diversions.


A Mixed Conclusion

So yes, I’d like to see my 'Net-Equationism' neologism instilled in the conversational limelight because tradition hasn’t done us any favours here. If deviating from traditional wavelengths is an intellectual vice in your mind, you’ve probably noticed by now that you’re on the wrong blog anyway (which is not to imply that this blog is a peculiar snowflake; many other blogs deviate far more).

Here’s a microcosmic example of what I'm getting at: An acquaintance of mine who enjoys writing spent almost two decades placing his commas and periods outside the parentheses, because he found it esthetically pleasing and didn't fuss over the conventional wisdom of how it's supposed to be done. I shared his preference. He went on to post-secondary. I went on to... earn actual money. After a cup of coffee in academia, he finally caved in to the official edict and started placing commas/periods inside the parentheses. His submission was highly disappointing to me. As you may have noticed, I never cowered to commas/periods-inside-parentheses edicts, because it's counterintuitive to me and it looks awful. It killed me to see him conform to this type of stuff, knowing how much he preferred keeping the commas/periods on the outside.

A healthy dose of irreverence towards institutional standardization is a must in my view. I see no reason to pressure any writer –– obscure or otherwise –– to pay everlasting homage to a superannuated mode of discourse; renowned as it may still be. Outsiders shouldn’t be discouraged from coining new terms in a sensible manner, like I’ve done here.

Unfortunately, accomplished go-getters holding worldviews largely shaped by academia have developed a knack for intermingling the endemic sin of anti-intellectualism with the “sin” of insolence towards institutional conventional wisdom. This is nothing more than a roundabout form of character assassination; invidious when it actually succeeds at humbling underqualified (but thoughtful) outsiders into silence and disengagement.

I think we need a meeting of the minds between the formal and the informal. Very few agree.

Elitists and would-be elitists are generally put off by this proposal because they’ve invested so much of their time/money/energy into the academic sphere and don’t exactly revel at the thought of being on equal footing with individuals whose aptitudes aren’t institutionally traceable. By refusing to strike the right balance here, they end up alienating unique individuals with uniquely acute perspectives who are often captivated by questions surrounding ethics, but who don’t have the time or patience or wherewithal to plow through the heaps of material that’s presented as mandatory for cardinal insight (and is, let’s face it, often just cited to score sophistication brownie points).

The only drawback with a formal/informal criss-cross venture is that it can be taken off-balance in chaotic online environments, as seen on a daily basis by the likes of Stephan Molyneux. Once hijacked by the emotionally distraught outsider (or merely a shill), the criss-cross approach opens the door to a blurring of the lines between the rightful reproaching of affectation, and the wrongful sacrificing of substance; intended to make discourse on ethics permeable to the lowest common denominator. This dumbing-down effect would be necessary “for the cause” according to a subset of outsiders; the implacable ones. Molyneux’s UPB shenanigans are a suitable example of this.

Inmendham in particular relies on oratorical style-points to garner strength in numbers. A newcomer might ask why he’s so gung-ho on attaining additional supporters in the first place. The answer is depressingly simple: Inmendham wants to have a war with Natalists (literally) and this is impossible to pull off due to the present-day dearth of recruits.

Make no mistake, the founder of Efilism does have his share of allies, but he has dubbed most of them “useless backseat drivers” because he understands that hardly anyone in his camp salivates at the thought of actual combat with Natalists the way he does.

Keenly aware that he has no chance of recruiting the type of individuals trained in highfalutin mumbo-jumbo, Inmendham sticks to uploading YT videos jam-packed with colorful indignation; designed to entice irascible Injustice Collectors. Seven years and counting. Nowadays he’s quite open about this histrionic-friendly strategy, thinking it makes for a consummate motivational scheme.

Then there's the “garbage out > garbage in” clause, where The Truth is dirt simple and the reason people haven’t absorbed it is because (1) they’re fed brain garbage by cultures and institutions, and (2) because they’re selfish or “nihilistic” or phantasmagorical and don’t want The Truth reigning in on their parade. I think he overestimates the extent to which the former is true, while the latter is a sweeping caricature of the process of belief, as explained in Sections D and J of this post.

Admittedly, my clamouring for a formal/informal criss-cross is a tricky fine line to identify, so I can appreciate how toilsome it would be to actually put it in practice… especially in light of these expropriation vulnerabilities (Molyneux, Inmendham, assorted conspiratards, etcetera)

Doesn’t mean we don't dare try testing the waters.