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The Ted Interview

 
Nhoj Morley
 
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Nhoj Morley
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30 October 2018 17:29
 

Sam talks to the head of TED, Chris Anderson, about using reason to build our morality. Sam makes the case that reason can indeed answer moral questions, and then explores the many controversies that emerge from that claim. Moral superiority? Cultural superiority? Moral progress? Chris and Sam dig in to discuss the right ways to think about defining right from wrong, and reason’s role in it all.

The Ted Interview


This thread is for listeners’ comments.

 
 
burt
 
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burt
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30 October 2018 22:31
 
Nhoj Morley - 30 October 2018 05:29 PM

Sam talks to the head of TED, Chris Anderson, about using reason to build our morality. Sam makes the case that reason can indeed answer moral questions, and then explores the many controversies that emerge from that claim. Moral superiority? Cultural superiority? Moral progress? Chris and Sam dig in to discuss the right ways to think about defining right from wrong, and reason’s role in it all.

The Ted Interview


This thread is for listeners’ comments.

Reason is only half the story. At least as it is usually defined.

 
DEGENERATEON
 
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DEGENERATEON
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31 October 2018 12:41
 

This isn’t precisely on-topic but Sam does mention the insanity of political correctness in the prologue and during the interview.  I’m interested in others opinions on the statements Megyn Kelly made on her show.  A lot of feedback I saw on other shows or from just googling was very negative, and basically said she is a racist and deserves to be fired.  I watched the clip after hearing about it, and don’t really understand what the problem is.  Is there a problem if my son wants to dress as Black Panther and paint his face black?  He obviously has no hate intended and looks up to the character.  I would most likely steer him away from that but should I have to?  Am I a racist because I would allow him to paint his face brown or black?
When one of my brothers was in middle school (about 30 years ago) he dressed as a rapper.  He loved rap so he put on a Eric B and Rakim shirt, a fake gold chain, painted his face brown and wore an afro-type hair piece.  We had never heard of blackface and he was doing it because he admired rappers (of which about 99% were black).  Don’t remember what my parents said or if they even knew - but were they wrong to allow it (if they did in fact know)?
I haven’t thought very deeply about it, but my first take is that people are being too sensitive.  I mean it’s a different story if an adult paints their face to look like the blackface of the past, but a kid painting his face brown to look like someone they admire?  Anyway most of what I read goes against what I am thinking so looking for some good arguments.

[ Edited: 31 October 2018 12:53 by DEGENERATEON]
 
Brick Bungalow
 
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01 November 2018 09:24
 
DEGENERATEON - 31 October 2018 12:41 PM

This isn’t precisely on-topic but Sam does mention the insanity of political correctness in the prologue and during the interview.  I’m interested in others opinions on the statements Megyn Kelly made on her show.  A lot of feedback I saw on other shows or from just googling was very negative, and basically said she is a racist and deserves to be fired.  I watched the clip after hearing about it, and don’t really understand what the problem is.  Is there a problem if my son wants to dress as Black Panther and paint his face black?  He obviously has no hate intended and looks up to the character.  I would most likely steer him away from that but should I have to?  Am I a racist because I would allow him to paint his face brown or black?
When one of my brothers was in middle school (about 30 years ago) he dressed as a rapper.  He loved rap so he put on a Eric B and Rakim shirt, a fake gold chain, painted his face brown and wore an afro-type hair piece.  We had never heard of blackface and he was doing it because he admired rappers (of which about 99% were black).  Don’t remember what my parents said or if they even knew - but were they wrong to allow it (if they did in fact know)?
I haven’t thought very deeply about it, but my first take is that people are being too sensitive.  I mean it’s a different story if an adult paints their face to look like the blackface of the past, but a kid painting his face brown to look like someone they admire?  Anyway most of what I read goes against what I am thinking so looking for some good arguments.

I think it’s a less a matter of parsing out what is or isn’t offensive. People are offended by all manner of things. I don’t think we should trivialize concerns over blackface. I think it is offensive and I think a good argument can mounted for that… I don’t think that’s the point here.

I think the problem is that we don’t converse at length. We don’t make distinctions of degree. We don’t modulate the animosity of disagreement with the cordiality of agreement. Halloween costumes are a two on the scale. Church shootings are a ten. Partisan rancor turns every disagreement into a seven at minimum because we fail to engage. Most of us do at any rate. We only test our intuitions against people who agree with us and so they are they amplified rather than modulated.

 
Brick Bungalow
 
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01 November 2018 09:27
 

On the OP, I really like Chris as a foil for Sam. He doesn’t present as a strident ideologue or contrarian. Nor does he accept any of Sams propositions on authority.

 
nonverbal
 
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01 November 2018 17:26
 

I had to wonder if Harris was perhaps joking when he worried aloud about AI engineers someday inadvertently unleashing horrific and widespread AI misery on the universe. I thought I was a worry-wart!

 
 
Russco79
 
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02 November 2018 09:51
 

Man it’s so frustrating to listen to ignorant leftists like Chris Anderson throw out statements like “universal healthcare”.  It’s like hearing a schoolkid talk upon the homework he hasn’t done.  Saying we should make ‘healthcare a right’ is akin to a passenger in a taxi realising he likes being driven about and wondering why anyone ever walks.

It’s so sad as he is clearly a smart man yet you realise he has never ever had an intelligent conversation about healthcare, just one within the clucking heads of his echo chamber.

 
brazen4
 
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02 November 2018 10:15
 

One little note on the issue of “black face”. My understanding is that, historically, it was a form of derision and in no way neutral or complimentary but more a way of laughing at the black culture as it existed at the time. As regards the thread, one point I related to was the point about the emotional difficulty of letting go of a belief/relationship with a higher power that is/was an integral part of ones consciousness. As rational thinking became more and more a part of my own consciousness I would say it may have taken 10 yrs or so to completely purge my thought process from retreating to an entrenched default conversation with something I knew was a fabrication from my childhood. I don’t think we all do this the same way if we do it at all. I have a feeling that the mere consideration of this sort of introspection is so terrifying to some, maybe most, people that we are maybe expecting too much. I love the concept of “the soft bigotry of low expectations” and I try not to indulge it but I lean in that direction if I’m not vigilant.

 
nonverbal
 
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02 November 2018 11:49
 
Russco79 - 02 November 2018 09:51 AM

Man it’s so frustrating to listen to ignorant leftists like Chris Anderson throw out statements like “universal healthcare”.  It’s like hearing a schoolkid talk upon the homework he hasn’t done.  Saying we should make ‘healthcare a right’ is akin to a passenger in a taxi realising he likes being driven about and wondering why anyone ever walks.

It’s so sad as he is clearly a smart man yet you realise he has never ever had an intelligent conversation about healthcare, just one within the clucking heads of his echo chamber.

Maybe Anderson is trying to develop/spread a meme. After all, if other more sensible countries are able to support and maintain universal healthcare, how is it that the U.S. fails? Are we too economically weak?

 
 
Jan_CAN
 
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02 November 2018 12:37
 
nonverbal - 02 November 2018 11:49 AM
Russco79 - 02 November 2018 09:51 AM

Man it’s so frustrating to listen to ignorant leftists like Chris Anderson throw out statements like “universal healthcare”.  It’s like hearing a schoolkid talk upon the homework he hasn’t done.  Saying we should make ‘healthcare a right’ is akin to a passenger in a taxi realising he likes being driven about and wondering why anyone ever walks.

It’s so sad as he is clearly a smart man yet you realise he has never ever had an intelligent conversation about healthcare, just one within the clucking heads of his echo chamber.

Maybe Anderson is trying to develop/spread a meme. After all, if other more sensible countries are able to support and maintain universal healthcare, how is it that the U.S. fails? Are we too economically weak?

Agree.  Universal healthcare in the U.S. is likely to remain a pipe dream until the majority of Americans see it as a ‘right’ worth fighting for.  It’s not economical weakness; it’s low expectations and a lack of resolve.

 
 
Antisocialdarwinist
 
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02 November 2018 13:08
 

Why is that when it comes to healthcare, people always seem to conflate a “right” with an “entitlement?” Healthcare is already a de facto “right” in the sense that the government doesn’t prevent anyone from obtaining it. Even if we added an amendment to the constitution that recognized healthcare as a “right,” that still wouldn’t get us to universal healthcare. Does the first amendment say that the government should provide me with a soap box? Does the second amendment say that the government should provide me with a firearm? Of course not! They only say that my rights to free speech and guns shall not be infringed.

Universal healthcare is an example of an entitlement, not a right.

 
 
Jan_CAN
 
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02 November 2018 13:38
 
Antisocialdarwinist - 02 November 2018 01:08 PM

Why is that when it comes to healthcare, people always seem to conflate a “right” with an “entitlement?” Healthcare is already a de facto “right” in the sense that the government doesn’t prevent anyone from obtaining it. Even if we added an amendment to the constitution that recognized healthcare as a “right,” that still wouldn’t get us to universal healthcare. Does the first amendment say that the government should provide me with a soap box? Does the second amendment say that the government should provide me with a firearm? Of course not! They only say that my rights to free speech and guns shall not be infringed.

Universal healthcare is an example of an entitlement, not a right.

Whether or not it has been written into a ‘constitution’, and whether or not you call it a ‘right’ or an ‘entitlement’, until and unless Americans come to expect their government to provide a fair and affordable health care system for all, they will not benefit from what citizens of most democratic countries have come to expect.

 
 
Russco79
 
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02 November 2018 13:48
 

@Antisocialdarwinist Precisely my case.  Everyone else- listen up!

You cannot construct something as right that infringes on existing more fundamental rights.  Healthcare requires labour.  If a govt mandated healthcare as right then it has also to mandate slavery, since it would require doctors to work under compulsion.  For those not following, if the govt paid doctors below the market rate then they would be within their rights to seek other work.  What do you do then? Once doctors know this there essentially becomes no market rate, they have the govt over a barrel, they can charge whatever they want.  The whole thing is ludicrous.

Healthcare is particularly troublesome since with every medical breakthrough healthcare becomes exponentially more expensive as it increases the amount of people needing it.  Imagine if we cured cancer but the cure cost $10m per treatment.  Does that count as part of your ‘right’? 

The question is so complex only someone who has never thought about the problem would suggest it could ever be a right.

 
Jan_CAN
 
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02 November 2018 13:54
 
Russco79 - 02 November 2018 01:48 PM

@Antisocialdarwinist Precisely my case.  Everyone else- listen up!

You cannot construct something as right that infringes on existing more fundamental rights.  Healthcare requires labour.  If a govt mandated healthcare as right then it has also to mandate slavery, since it would require doctors to work under compulsion.  For those not following, if the govt paid doctors below the market rate then they would be within their rights to seek other work.  What do you do then? Once doctors know this there essentially becomes no market rate, they have the govt over a barrel, they can charge whatever they want.  The whole thing is ludicrous.

Healthcare is particularly troublesome since with every medical breakthrough healthcare becomes exponentially more expensive as it increases the amount of people needing it.  Imagine if we cured cancer but the cure cost $10m per treatment.  Does that count as part of your ‘right’? 

The question is so complex only someone who has never thought about the problem would suggest it could ever be a right.

How do you explain that most other democratic countries manage it?

 
 
TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher
 
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02 November 2018 14:50
 

There are positive and negative rights.  A negative right is like free speech or the right to bear arms; one can do either free from state interference (more or less, exceptions noted).  A positive right, by contrast, carries an obligation from the state to act toward its fulfillment, like education or right to counsel at trial.  Unlike here, healthcare in European countries is considered a positive right that incurs an obligation from the state to provide for it it (like education and representation at trial both there and here).  In my opinion, American political discourse could use a good dose of catching up to the rest of the world in this regard, i.e. in defining its rights both positively and negatively, instead of solely negatively, and reserving the term “entitlement” for everything else.  Since we do this anyway, in our own awkward way.

For instance, in our awkward way we rely on some semblance of positive rights even in healthcare, for if I go to an emergency room for an emergency (or I am brought there), the facility cannot deny me care, for any reason; it is obligated to treat.  De facto this means one has a positive right to emergency medical services, with payment or not negotiated after the fact.  The treatment is predicated on the right to the care, not the ability to pay for it or not (and it doesn’t matter for its status as a right that it isn’t necessarily free; hence the awkwardness).

Like the the obligation to treat, the pre-existing condition clause is a similar oxymoron that would best be jettisoned for the more simple and straightforward positive right to basic healthcare.  There are different ways of insuring this right; it doesn’t have to be the government as a single payer system.  But in any case, arguably—and it has been show time and time again by economists in terms of lost productivity and costly externalities—basic health is as central to the functioning of our democracy (read our “economy,” if you wish) as basic education. Maybe it’s time we catch up to the rest of the civilized world and realize that, and just call it a positive right the government is obligated to provide for, with whatever hybrid of markets and government involvement that works best.

Medicare and Social Security, as “entitlements,” are in fact compulsory social insurance programs.  One pays into both through taxes and then reaps benefits.  Medicaid and welfare programs (and some disability payments) are the true entitlements that even in their own way acknowledge something of a “positive right,” in that as a society we want to sort of acknowledge that everyone has a positive right to basically survive, even if they can’t do it on their own.  Our allergy to just calling a right something the state is also obligated to see fulfilled instead of limiting “right” to something free from state interference accounts for a lot of what make our political system inexplicable to the rest of the world.  And, in my opinion, horribly inefficient. 

[ Edited: 02 November 2018 15:07 by TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher]
 
Antisocialdarwinist
 
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02 November 2018 15:31
 

Got it. The second amendment is a “negative right” because of the way it’s worded: “...shall not be infringed.” Aren’t all the rights identified in the Bill of Rights “negative rights?” Is there any meaningful difference between a “positive right” and an entitlement?

 
 
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